Taking Stock at 30

At 12, this sign is what I wanted to see each night before going to bed, for the rest of my life.

We celebrated my thirtieth birthday a couple weekends ago. It’s a pretty weird age to turn, at least as milestone ages go. It isn’t really all that old–so people who are older still scoff at you, as probably always happens–“you think eighty is old, wait until you turn ninety!”–but it sounds pretty damn old to anyone in their twenties. I suppose it’s an adult-sounding age, the age by which you have settled into a life path of sorts, or not. Supposedly forty is the new thirty, but I don’t really think that’s the case for me. Thirty is pretty thirty. I kind of like adult life. Marriage, kids, a full-time job, these aren’t things I want to avoid. I try to find myself within them, not outside.

I did point, in the past few years, to being thirty as a sort of edge for my goals. I had a few informal “To Do By Thirty” lists. Most of the advice I received from friends who recently turned thirty ahead of me was to avoid thinking in terms of things that I wanted to accomplish by now, but didn’t, as that can only lead to disappointment. I’m going to anyway.

Ned Beatty, getting misty-eyed.

My main goal was to have a book published by thirty. It didn’t happen, and nothing is on the horizon either. I think this is my main disappointment, I guess–although I’ve published short fiction in lit journals more widely than I really expected too, frankly, if there’s mitigation here. I’ve still never seen an Irish game in Notre Dame Stadium, although I’ve seen games in Lincoln and Colorado Springs. I wanted to have an MFA degree, or be working toward a PhD, but that didn’t really pan out. I’m mostly okay with that. I do have an MA, and I really enjoyed the experience of earning it.

I became a world traveler this summer when Nicole and I went to Tel Aviv in July. Of course, if one really did all the travel they wanted to during their twenties, there wouldn’t be time to do much else.

I’m married, and we have one incredible daughter with another on the way. These were things I didn’t really plan on. They’re the great surprise of my life.

This is not me. I'm okay with that.

I haven’t fulfilled what I foresaw for myself when I was twelve–living in downtown Kansas City with Royals season tickets, working as a plotter of X-Men comics. I have not fulfilled my dream of being a spokesmodel for Hungry-Man Dinners.

In sum, birthdays are always overblown. After the hangover was hydrated, I actually felt quite a bit better than I had in a while. What I manage over the next thirty years is what will matter more, after all.

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