Today is my last day in my twenties. Just another day, I woke up sleepy from staying up late and hit snooze too many times. I took a long nap this afternoon and since I woke up I have been in a contemplative daze, thinking about the last decade of my life.
I had this vision of my twenties when I was starting out, a decade of adventure and success, love and discovery. I didn't think about the other sides of those things; disappointments, failures, heartbreaks, etc. Looking back today I have few regrets but am pretty damn happy my twenties are over. I'm ready fora fresh start, even if that beginning is a number attached to my experiences. I've heard over and over that the thirties blow the twenties out of the water in terms of confidence and living. Yet one of things I've learned is not to pay too much attention to broad generalizations. I hope I'm wrong on this one.
I’ve learned how to live alone and have come to love it. I love painting my living space in bright colors. I cook myself elaborate meals I eat accompanied by the quiet singer/songwriter music I love. I sometimes wonder if I am pathetic in the eyes of others but realize I don't really care. I write in my journals and when I look back through them I see the evolution of my views, how they've changed but at the heart of it all I am still Lizz the secretly romantic woman who wants an extraordinary life. It is just that the extraordinary things have prices that seem too high.
I am somewhat cynical. There is no hiding that. The few wounds I have received have been deep. I sometimes I wonder if I am capable of living with the open heart I entered this decade with. It is a difficult thought to wrestle with and I ignore it, though it never truly goes away. It hovers ghost-like creepy around my bed before I go to sleep and I have to Hail Mary or mantra it away. Last week while having beers I told B (and he emailed the quote back to me) "It is easier to be cynical than it is to be vulnerable. At least when you're cynical you know you're going to be disappointed." If someone would have said that to me even two years ago. I would have felt sorry for them. But for the moment, it is true.
I’ve come to appreciate my family more and love my parents with a fierceness that comes from being more aware of mortality. I am terrified of not having my parents or other family members in my life. I sometimes feel guilty about not having the life they imagined for me. They, of course, want me to be happy but don't understand that my version of happiness doesn't necessarily include a life partner or children. The thought of those things are anathema to me, so far.
I wonder if I'll ever be a mother or a wife. My selfish self gets scared that I won't have time to read or write. My fears were once confirmed by a writer I know. She lived freely until she fell in love and became a wife and mother. During an alcohol-lubricated conversation she confessed that even though she loved her husband and children, if she could go back she would have stayed single and concentrated on her passion for writing. That conversation that struck fear into my heart and I haven't stopped thinking about it. There is a nurturing instinct in me that gets stronger ever year but I don't see myself giving into it. Not yet, not for a while.
I fear aging. I love my body and all of the things it is capable of but I feel it changing. I know it is not feminist or realistic of me but I am disappointed in the slow changes occuring . There are faint lines now around my mouth and I know they are not anything that will go away. The elasticity in my skin is easing up. My body takes faster to heal and there are the beginning of creaks in my knees if I keep my legs bent too long. I am hyper-aware of mortality when I wake up in the middle of the night. I feel my heart and have mini-existential crises knowing one day it will stop beating.
I have years left, I know, of youth and its privileges. I don’t look my age but I feel it more very day. There is a heaviness to me that has settled in the last couple of years and it is experience. The optimism has been chipped away at. I know there are others who have more difficult lives but this is my life and sometime I panic and how blase it is and how often I feel like a failure.
I try to face things with fear or attachment but fail more often than not. My sister Deanna and I had a good conversation a few days ago about expectations. I've struggled with this mind set of not having expectations, some sort of lingering ghost from my early twenties when I was more spiritual and into ideals that have turned out to be only ideals. Deanna said "You can stand on train tracks and say you don't expect the train to hit you it comes but it doesn't change the fact you're standing on train tracks and the train is coming." I've spent a too much time on those train tracks. Time to move off them.
I have also had great experiences that have shaped me, changed me. I have taken big risks in how I choose to live. Living in Mexico was one of the greatest choices I made. I was away from family and everyone who knew me and I survived and thrived. I wrote and painted and wandered colonial streets at night alive and blazing in the joy of my tiny bohemian-like existence. That is when I truly threw myself into my writing. I wrote very day of my experiences and discoveries, documenting the insects that crawled on my page. I learned how to be alone without being lonely which was one of the greatest lessons on all. My poetic self was more alive than it has been since.
I have loved. Stupidly at times and brilliantly at others. I learned that I am a difficult person to be with because of my lone wolf tendencies coupled with all sorts of other crap. I have a lot to say on the subject but won't. May the lessons I have learned save me from my disastrous instincts.
I've become a more serious writer though I'm still pretty lame about submitting my work. I like the voice I have developed though I definitely want to keep improving it. I lack discipline and get myself into cycles of despair. I read the biographies of writers and talk to writer friends and know this is common. I can't imagine not being an artist. I don't understand how people can go through life without the desire to document and create, express and explore.
Despite the malaise of the last year or so I am still an optimist. I'm glad to be done with this last decade of learning and trying to define myself. This morning I sat on the edge of a canyon. Because of the recent rain the slope I sat on was lush with spring greens and the air smelled loamy and of sage. Optimism crept in. Thinking about who I am I surprised myself with the answer that I don't know and am okay with that. I'm a poet. I write poetry. I am a daughter, I have parents. But the core of me is this ever-evolving spirit (for lack of a better word) that is capable of creating and loving.
So welcome thirties! I come to you with a semi-open heart and then some.