Closer to 30

I am 26 today, June 24.

I’ve been telling people I’m 26 years old since I moved to Dickinson two months ago, rounding up to avoid the confusion of saying, “I’m 25 but I turn 26 soon so by the time you see me next I may be a year older.”

But it hit me last night that saying I’m 26 and actually turning 26 feel very different.

I’m officially closer to 30, for one, as my mom pointed out. I’m in my “late 20’s,” a real old fogey. I sped through the past year without even the possibility of a real boyfriend, all the while reminding myself that my older sister was married before she hit 26, that maybe if I just picked a random bachelor on OK Cupid I could also hit that milestone (and then beat to her the next milestone of “divorced by 26”).

I meant to write this last night but fell asleep on my couch around 9 watching Sherlock on Netflix after a very strenuous day of being hungover (I’ll never learn! I’ll never grow up!), but here is a recap of things I’ve done in the past 25 years and why I might not be screwed for the next 25:

-Didn’t die

-Didn’t kill anyone else, directly or otherwise (I think/hope)

-Made plenty of mistakes that I still feel bad for–interviews that didn’t turn into stories, breaking promises to children, not sending my jiddo letters when I meant to, hurting my parents’ feelings–but tried to learn from them

-Completed 17 years of school

-Was published. On NPR!

-Worked at NPR (things may have peaked)

-Traveled a lot and never lost the desire to travel even more

-Had many pets and volunteered at many animal shelters and got to spend lots of time surrounded by animals

-Met Brandon and a bevy of other amazing individuals

I don’t know what I want out of the next year. Health, love, family, friends, etc., of course. But I want to be somewhere else–physically, for sure, and emotionally–by my 27th birthday. Not married, but maybe with someone (dating is tiring, you guys. And expensive. And degrading.). Employed and at a job I love. Living closer to my sister or Brandon, or in a different country entirely. Free of all debt (HA HA HA HAAAAA I will die with student loans).

Last year I celebrated my birthday traveling from Chicago back to D.C. after visiting for graduation. My friend John danced me into my 25th year at a club in the Belmont neighbhorhood, and almost 24 hours later I was watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup at a Cleveland Park bar in D.C. with a neighbor. It was both sweet and sad (perhaps they should invent a word to describe such a feeling–bittersweet?) to spend the day mostly alone, waiting for my lost luggage at the airport, leaving a city I had known so well and returning to one I hardly knew then. Now I would give anything to be in D.C. at that stupid bar. I like to think I’d be surrounded by people I love, the ones I left on the East Coast to come here.

I didn’t have high hopes for today. I made myself a special breakfast, bought myself a special coffee, wore a special outfit to keep my spirits up. Work was long. None of my coworkers remembered my birthday (I didn’t want them to, anyway–makes me feel uncomfortable, for some reason).

But my sister sent me flowers, my jiddo called me and a friend I’ve known since high school emailed me to wish me a happy birthday. I took myself out for a martini–and didn’t get carded, so the bartender didn’t know I was drinking alone on my birthday–and I’m eating too much guacamole and too many Oreos and watching Sherlock series 3 on Netflix. An okay Tuesday overall.

A month in

I realized today that I have been at my job exactly one month, and in Dickinson one month and one day (give or take). It seems much longer ago that my apartment was still swamped in boxes; now I look around at my newly-painted bookshelf and photos hanging neatly on the walls and I wonder when, and how, I got settled here.

Not that I’m “here” yet, not by a long shot. I may have gotten my Dickinson Public Library card a week ago, but I still can’t tell you my address off the top of my head. I keep putting off getting a new driver’s license and registering my car here. Most days I still feel like I’m on some kind of working vacation, a fleeting jaunt to a different life that I’ll return from any day now and think, ‘Well, that was certainly an experience.’

A month isn’t much of a milestone — just another menstrual cycle in the grand scheme of things, really* — but I figure a little added reflection at this time can’t hurt. So, here the past month, in numbers. I have:

-been fired zero times

-written 33 articles

-hanged 26 pictures (sorry, neighbors)

-learned four chords on the guitar

-gotten two nosebleeds

-been to one African church service

-roped (what we city folk might call “lasso”) one unsuspecting lectern

-been on two dates, with one guy

-watched six seasons of Sex and the City

-cried just once (setting off one of those nosebleeds)

(UPDATE 5/27/14: Oh! Forgot to include my first/last time speaking at a Kiwanis Club meeting. The whole time I couldn’t process the strange time warp that was occurring.)

I’ve met I don’t know how many new people and made what I hope are at least five new friends, gone out for countless beers (that I had to buy myself! I was under the impression that randy Oil Patch men would be doing all the buying here). and played a dozen or so games of pool, because that is what you do here.

Now for the next month.

*should delete, won’t delete