05 November 2007

Thirty

My sister is turning thirty in about a week. It's odd, and for some reason, emotional for me.

"Thirty" was always the number that as a child, I figured I'd be an adult at. I figured at thirty, I'd be my prettiest, happiest, smartest and most wise. Even as the end of my twenties ebbed slowly into my thirties, still, I feel that way--the same way that I did in my youth; waiting for the becoming of an adult.

Outwardly, yes, I suppose I am one. By all appearances children, mortgages, car payments, parent-teacher conferences--those denote the activities of an adult. It's just that when I lie down at night, I still wonder when I'll actually begin to feel like one.

Many of the insecurities of my youth are still lodged within me and speak to me. "What if they don't like me? What if they laugh? What if when I walk away, they are talking about me?" I know that many times, I'm still perceived as the snobby child, reading on the playground, too good to talk to anyone, when honestly, I'm so unsure of myself at times, I can't even begin to think of how to interact with someone else.

Of course, I know that thirty is just a number. How can I so fiercely still feel and recall my youth--as though it were just a blink away--when in reality, it becomes further removed each day?

Is this how it will be then, always? Even when wrinkles line my face and hands and there is no longer any semblance of the girl in my tattered photo albums compared to the woman before the mirror? I'll still smell and feel and live in my youth, while to everyone else, I'm old? So perhaps it's not just my imagination, the sadness I think I see behind the eyes of so many elderly?

When I recall my family, we are young. We are unbroken and innocent and laugh freely; the way that we did before we realized that sometimes, our laughter was too loud or distinct; before we began repressing it--taking for granted that we'd want to laugh that way later.

My mom recently said to my aunt, "It's scary, isn't it, coming upon sixty and still feeling like a teenager"? And I felt her then: the girl in the photo, holding the hands of the man that she'd marry, her head tilted back and happiness so obviously written upon her face. I'm not sure that I knew her before that moment, for I'd been so busy calling her "mom", I'd never devoted much time to thinking that she hadn't always answered to that name. Once upon a time, perhaps she, too, looked at thirty as a million years away and then wrestled with the passing of it when it arrived upon her doorstep when she had only closed her eyes for a moment.

Thirty, when so very clearly, I recall her "three", and her "three" feels closer in time than the celebration planned for next week. Is that possible, really, for time to pass so quickly and yet remain so still within? How is it that I'll hug an amazing woman and wish her "Happy Thirtieth" and yet still see before me a flaxen-haired child, aged around six, thirty a lifetime away?

What are these things? What do they mean? Do we ever know?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you notice that you thought at thirty you'd be happiest, wisest, and prettiest, then only acknowledged responsibilities.

From previous entries, you are inexplicably wise, your children, pets, family and friends are central to happy times you describe, and the beauty of the soul you portray through writing can not mislead in the belief that you to are gorgeous.

Just remember that number so you have a reason to request a lower insurance premium.

Mamma said...

I have this conversation with myself all the time.

I don't feel responsible or knowledgable (sp?) to be an adult. I don't feel like I've got it together like an adult is supposed to.

Maybe this will keep us young at heart?

Jen M. said...

I hope to say the same thing your mom says. Age really is a number - our minds and souls are the same. Age isn't what makes us grown-up, I guess. That has to come from our own hard work.

I was so amazed once to realize that someone I knew (20+ years older than me) was ragingly immature, petty and mean. I was really stunned because at the time, I thought you just couldn't be like that as a grown up. Heh.

Loralee Choate said...

I used to say that I would be a grown up when I was ineligable to run for Miss Utah (Like I ever WOULD. It just seemed like a good barrier at the time.)

Then it moved to growing up when I was married. Then when I had kids. When my kids are out of school. Soon the standard will probably be when I am in need of adult diapers.

I have come to think that there are many, many "Grownups" that walk around feeling like they are kids playing dress up.

I think it is just a matter of perception, really. I thought being a grown up would feel differently than it does.

bgirl said...

wow...
the honesty in your writing always hits me right in the gut. i just know if we were nearby, we'd have much to chat about over many a glass of wine!

the insecurites we carry from youth, it's amazing the power they have despite the years of experiences that shapes us far beyond those little voices.

adulthood...age...just how are they defined?

luckyzmom said...

Believe that life is a wonderful thing and you will not have that sadness you think you "see behind the eyes of so many elderly"

I would also recommend reading the book "Eat,Pray,Love".

deb said...

This post made me feel sad because my childhood seems so long ago. And I know I'm not that old, but at times I feel ancient, an old wreck whose best days are behind her.

"I know that many times, I'm still perceived as the snobby child, reading on the playground, too good to talk to anyone, when honestly, I'm so unsure of myself at times, I can't even begin to think of how to interact with someone else."

I know these feelings so well, they are mine feelings as well. I didn't know.

Christine said...

this is how i feel when i see my baby sister about to have her own baby. what happened? w here did it all go?

Bon said...

i've wondered this myself, as i stare down the second half of my thirties approaching, and yet i still feel little different than i did at nineteen, in so many ways. i've wondered if at eighty, should i be so blessed with time, i'll find myself staring in a mirror, puzzled by where that girl got to. not grieving the age, just...befuddled. because inside, there doesn't seem to be such a thing as old.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

I have a good friend who turned 80 recently. He said to me that he couldn't possibly believe that he was 80 and that he not only had children and grandchildren but also great grandchildren when he still felt like a teenager at heart. It's funny how as young kids we always thought of everybody as "old" and then we get there and we never feel as old as we think we should.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

As I quickly approach 40, I feel like a full-fledged grown-up, in a good way. But then I start to do the math of, "that was 20 years ago.." and it seems impossible. Because I am the last of my siblings, I think I will always feel "younger".

I remember always envisioning my thirties as really old and now it seems young!

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh, Jenn. A beautiful post and so true. We blink and 5 years have passed. We turn our heads and a lifetime is gone.

jen said...

oh Jenn, lovely post.

and i don't know. i can't picture myself in my thirties even as i've been here awhile. let alone my child.

Kerry said...

I had these same thoughts when my dad just recently turned 60. He seems so young to me, so full of life. I always imagined 60 to be so old. But it's not.

Family Adventure said...

My mother-in-law, at 59, told me that what frightens her the most is that she feels she's only just started getting good at living, and she only has maybe a third of her life left. Yikes.

I don't understand where the time goes either. My own kids are growing up so quickly, we're almost half way there, before they move out and go to university.

We have to make the most if it. Every minute.

Heidi

Amy Y said...

I don't feel a day older than 14 myself and I just turned 30 this year also. This introspection is tough, eh?

Tuesday Girl said...

I always feared getting older. I freaked out before I turned 20, I would no longer be a teenager. I cried when I turned 30 and I fear 40 with the intensity of a thousand suns.
I guess I just don't want to die I want to be pretty and young forever. I hope soon I can just be happy with the now and not fear tomorrow.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

You are so eloquent Jenn! I feel this post, I really do. This week, my youngest brother, a recent college grad, got his first "real job". Now all 4 of my parents' children are gainfully employed in the Real World. As the oldest of the 4, I still think of my 3 younger siblings as KIDS. It's so hard to wrap your mind around.

Jennifer said...

Oh, yes. I so understand.

B said...

Im getting close to thirty, but not quite there yet.

I wonder if Ill feel the way u are when my my sister hits her 30s and then my brother.

Bean said...

This was a beautiful post, Jenn. I look back at when I was a teenager & how I also thought that when I turned "30" I'd be an adult. I don't feel any different now than when I did as a child. The great thing is that we can always remember how things were & no matter what our "true" age is, we will always feel what we did as children. As long as we have that, we are forever young!
Love ya.

crazymumma said...

At forty five I feel younger than I have ever felt. I wonder is it because I finally feel sort of happy?

justabeachkat said...

Another great post. Beautifully written.

Hugs!
Kat

Becc said...

I'm thankful we still feel that youth. I hope somehow we always do.

painted maypole said...

i wonder all of this all of the time. I often feel like I am playing at being a grown up? did my parents feel that way, too? and doesn't my daughter need me to BE the grown up? And don't I need me to be grown up, too? Why is being an adult such an unfathomable thing, even when we are one? I think it must be our PERCEPTIONS of what being grownup is.

Susan said...

My mom, who is 65, always tells me she looks in the mirror and can't believe that she's as old as she is...she still feels in her heart she's 20 or whatever young age. I admit it is strange seeing my body starting to shift in not the ways I'd always like, but I look back on when I was 20 or even 30 and see that i didn't really know and accept myself. Now that I do at 39 (or at least have a really good handle), I wouldn't want to go back.