If I Could Turn Back Time…I Wouldn’t

As the geriatric Chihuahua’s disproportionately large penis sticks sloppily to my arm, I survey the crowd at the boarding gate and wonder where everyone’s going; why one man keeps gingerly massaging the guy one seat over, who may or may not know him; and if the mousy woman watching some raunchy sex scene montage on her iPad has actually ever had sex.

It’s inching close to 5 AM at LAX, and my sleep-deprived mind realizes something.

I’m 30. Thirty. 3-0. 15×2. 6×5.

It was inevitable. Like sneeze-farting in public.

And then.

I wonder if there’s a Starbucks around here?

I hopscotch right over what’s supposed to be a horrendously awful milestone and skip it across some unseen reflecting pool — as if I haven’t been panicking about this day for the past few weeks, despite my best efforts to play it cool and be all “Turning thirty is no big thing, y’all.”

Turning 30 is a big deal. It’s the point where the last vestige of adolescent immaturity is hung up for good, like a raincoat on a California hall tree. Where those sometimes ill-fitting “I’m an adult!” clothes become more tailored, with less wrinkles. And when you really start coming to a gut-wrenching, yet bizarrely cathartic understanding of “This is who I’m going to be. For the most part.”

Of course, none of this happens smack-bam immediately. For me, it’s sort of been like playing a game of Jenga-Tetris: figuring out where all of these seemingly disparate elements of my life dovetail, and how I’ll make them interlock on a semi-balanced plane.(Okay, fine. I was never great at Jenga!)

Lately, Andy and I have talked/argued/mused about the importance of balance — of keeping ourselves in check and how exactly that will translate to reality. Because, like most people, we have big dreams that must sometimes be re-imagined; goals that we want to achieve, but whose timelines need to be more accurately re-adjusted (ahem, book deadline); hobbies that need to be dusted off and revisited.¬†Balance is what I want most out of my thirties, and with enough patience and gumption and support, I’ll get close to having it.

Because this is the first decade I haven’t stumbled into; it’s something that’s been looming on the horizon and something for which I’ve prepared — at least somewhat.

And with what I know now, I’ll view every bit of what dawns with it as less of a mystery and more of an experience.

Something to enjoyably behold and mold as I see fit. (Sans Chihuahua penises.)

Paper Weight

It’s hard to understand how something so thin can become charged with such power and weight. But I only have myself to blame.

I spent a large portion of Labor Day with paper rather than a plate of barbecue or a poolside drink: accordion files full of bills and pay stubs and leases and doctors’ visits and every possible thing imaginable from the past few years. And I ripped each apart, over and over and over again until my hands cramped.

I ripped through two years of our life together. From when we first met, to our frenetic scribbles back and forth with property management companies on the other side of the country — ardently attempting to convince them that, yes, we were both gainfully employed and that, no, we were absolutely not trying to pull a fast one.

Some more sentimental people would keep a lot of that; and I’ve kept some of it. But most of it had its place, and now its place is with tofu leavings and congealed grease. It’s time to move on and away from that shaky beginning.

***

We’ve lived in our current apartment for almost a year. A year. I can hardly believe it. Mostly because it seems like just a few weeks ago that we could barely move with the cardboard boxes — even when flattened — nearly reaching the ceiling. It was an exhilaratingly terrifying time.

Would we be able to make it?

Is this our next step?

Where does this all lead?

And, very occasionally, blips of hope penetrated that tornadic activity — and we sought them out and acknowledged them. Knowing all too well from our journey to those exact moments that we could easily stumble and see it all fall to pieces.

So as the confetti fluttered down to the floor, a certain catharsis rippled through me — all the way down to my ink-smudged, paper cut fingers. And I wondered.

What’s next?

As I lifted the two massive garbage bags out of the apartment and lugged them down to the dumpster, I couldn’t help but marvel at the weight — at just how much these relatively scattered, mostly meaningless pieces of our lives have added up to so much. And how much of a burden they can be.

That’s when it hit me: the burden.

It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with figuring out what’s next with writing my book. I thought I was finished a little while back. But it only took a week of distancing myself — having a wee break — for the creepy-crawlies of anxiety and second-guessing to get me editing out whole chapters and scraping pages by the handful.

Now, though, the heap is beginning to resemble a manuscript again — those fluttering bits pulled back in and twisted into something quasi-intelligible. But rather than frighting away from the weight of the whole thing — the experience of writing it, the uncertainty of what comes next — I have to remind myself that I’ve been carting it all around with me for years. And now, it’s time that I reach for that¬†finish line, knowing full well that it doubles as a starting gate.

And that I should get ready to sprint — enjoying the rush, the wind pushing against me, and the race around the track, regardless of where the next finish line may lay.