Reflections on the 365 crazy, upsetting and amazing days between thirty and thirty one.
My 31st birthday was two weeks ago. I spent it in Edinburgh, pampering myself at the hair salon, having an incredible dinner at one of the nicest places in town and drinking birthday drinks (slushees, no less) with new, fun, incredible people who have become my friends. All in all, it was a great birthday, full of food, laughter and (regrettably) plenty of tequila, and, after spending the night in my new city with totally new people around me, I couldn’t help but think of how different things were at this exact time last year.
Last April, for my big 3-0, my parents came through big time and rented a house in East Hampton for myself and 11 girlfriends so we could all get together for my first 30th birthday bash (a woman gets a few, doesn’t she?) Girlfriends of mine came from as far as California, Georgia and Florida to spend a long weekend eating, drinking and lounging together, and it still goes down as one of the best weekends ever – birthday or otherwise. It was everything you want in terms of bringing your friends together: everyone got along, everyone had fun, Rachel came to the conclusion that biking is “just like” spinning and Lisa made everyone look like lazy jerks by getting up every day and working out while Allison and I made french toast and got the group started on mimosa #1…it was seriously perfect…right up until the car ride home.
You see, that’s when my relationship and my career both jumped off the rails – totally killing my 3-day mimosa buzz and quite literally changing my life as I knew it. At some point before we left the Hamptons on Sunday, The Pilot decided to video call me blackout drunk from a bar in God knows what country, which is what somehow ultimately lead to our break up less than a week later (I don’t pretend to understand the inner workings of the male mind, guys). That’s all freezing cold water under a very old bridge now, but, at the time, it was a major and totally upsetting event in my life. The day after I got home from the Hamptons was also the beginning of the end of my last week as a private-practice lawyer, though I didn’t know it yet, and, looking back, it’s sort of wild how my birthday celebration – something dedicated to a new decade and new beginnings – marked the end of so many things for me, both personally and professionally.
Looking back, it’s sort of wild how my 30th birthday celebration – something dedicated to a new decade and new beginnings – marked the end of so many things for me, both personally and professionally.
One month before turning 30, I’d just started my job at a new law firm and was sending my then-boyfriend care packages to stay connected while he was on deployment in the Middle East. Less than one month after turning 30, following an abrupt and seriously unexpected change in trajectory, I was looking for a new career and dealing with the loss of a year-long ‘romantic’ ‘relationship.’ As most of you know, those plot twists are what eventually lead me to sell my house and move to Edinburgh, where I spent my 31st birthday happily single, surrounded not by my best childhood/college/law school girlfriends, but by people I’d only known for two weeks at the time.
When I wrote this post two weeks ago, it ended with this paragraph and a now-familiar mantra of mine that has to do with accepting change, being OK with transition and making my way through what is my new life across the pond (and I think I’d snuck in one more mimosa pun, also). Accepting where I’m at now is still my main motto, but, the more I thought about what these last 365 days have meant for me, the more I realized that I had something different to say in this particular manifestation of my often rambling, less than poetic, fairly random thoughts, so here it goes:
At any given moment, you could sit down in a quiet room and take stock of your life as it exists right now. Maybe you love your house or apartment, maybe you hate it and want to move. Maybe you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or crush, or maybe you’re (un)happily single. Maybe you adore your job and plan to get a promotion soon. Maybe you loathe going into work and your boss is a fanny-pack wearing jerk of epic proportions (not that I’d know anything about that). Maybe you’re healthy. Maybe you’re sick. Maybe you’re trying to get pregnant…plan a wedding…plan a vacation…save money…The point is, you could be as happy or unhappy or even ambivalent in your current situation as you’ve ever been, and within a year, or a few months, or even a damn day, every.single.thing could completely and totally change.
You could go to bed in your brand new Ralph Lauren navy and white paisley sheets in the home that you own on one of Philly’s most desirable blocks every night in November, and by March you could be texting your AirBnb hostess about when she can drop off extra linens for the bed you’re renting in a flat in a foreign city that you landed in a few weeks prior after leaving your career, friends and family five thousand miles in the rear-view mirror.
For better or worse, there really are no guarantees when it comes to your day-to-day. It can be an absolutely mind-numbing thing to think about the way your path has changed since the last time you really sat and thought about what you have, what you want, where you are and where (you think) you’re going, and I mean that in the best way possible: It’s incredible – and almost unbelievable – to look back every now and again and realize just how freakin’ adaptable we all are.
For better or worse, there really are no guarantees when it comes to your day-to-day.
I spent two full weeks searching the greater Philadelphia area for those paisley sheets (well worth it – they were patterned perfection, believe you me). I called store after store hunting for them until I finally found them, and then I drove lord knows how far to pick them up and bring them home. Those sheets were something that, in the late summer of 2016, really freakin’ mattered to me. Sitting here today, thinking about how much everything has changed, I can’t imagine devoting that much manpower to procuring perfect bedding…because, well, I don’t have my own bed anymore…and that, my friends, is the crazy thought: it might not be the things that you spend tons of time thinking about that will change…it’s the things that you don’t think about – the things you take for granted, like going to sleep in a bed that you own each night – that will take your knees right out from under you and change everything.
I thought about the sheets. I mean I really thought about the sheets. I just never thought – not even once -about the bed.