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Today I am a ma’am

A star anise seed floats in a rum opal at Firefly
A star anise seed floats in a rum opal (rum, chai, cream and sugar) at Firefly

(apologies to the Mary Tyler Moore Show for ripping off one of the episode titles)

Today I turned the corner of my 20s. I’m now closer to 30 than I am to 20.

On one hand, I’ve always acted older than I am. So in a way, my age is just finally catching up with the rest of me.

On the other, I’m the one playing catch-up. Many of my peers (fellow interns, entry-level job seekers) are three to five years younger than I am. In some cases, the people I know in that age group are beyond me — in careers, in relationships, in building lives.

I love my life. After spending 20-odd years in one place, I’m grateful for the ability to move across the country as the wind blows, taking chances and grabbing opportunities as they appear. I have the luxury of being unsettled. I figure I have most of the rest of my life to be settled, so I might as well enjoy my freedom while it lasts.

Yet freedom is lonely sometimes.

I’ve had my head buried in my work for a long time. It feels as if I’ve pulled a Rip Van Winkle: Suddenly, I’ve come back into the world, and it’s changed. The grey hairs are more visible. (I have my totally-grey-at-17 late grandfather to thank for that.) When I miss a night of sleep, it shows. The cute guys are no longer single. Neither are my girlfriends. I’m now older than my mother was when she got married.

For all my feminist I-don’t-need-a-man rhetoric…well, it was nice to think I could have one if I wanted one. The logical part of me knows that if the time is ever right, the right one will come along.

The human part of me can’t get past the panicked idea that maybe I’ve missed my chance.

Fortunately, most of the time, my logical side wins out. And on those nights when it just can’t shut up the human side, there’s always Maker’s Mark. Or, as I had tonight during a lovely dinner with my family at Firefly in Dupont Circle, a rum opal. Like my immediate future, the drink was murky. Like the possibilities, it was heady and sweet.

Yes, today was my birthday. Today I was surrounded by love from my family, was engulfed in frustration by my family, learned lessons, felt love from my far-away friends, ate truffle-oil fries, drank very strong Italian coffee, partook of cupcakes and chocolate gelato, laughed, cried, and wore pink ruffles and earrings shaped like six-shooters. If that’s a little microcosm of the year ahead, I think it will be a good — if challenging — one.

Whether it will involve cute geeks or lots of Maker’s is yet to be determined.

Published in Ponderings