I wake up in the near dark to the sound of whimpering. Pitiful little whines and raspy barks that quickly turn into thumping tail wags when I stumble into the living room. At thirty, I am still not a morning person, but my puppy is.
When I sit down in front of his crate to open the door, he crawls into my lap, his wiggly little body nuzzling around for the perfect spot to settle while I put on his harness for the first walk of the day. My boyfriend shuffles into the room and takes the leash from me to bring the puppy outside while I make coffee. Our cat trails behind him, still not the biggest fan of the newest, hyper little addition to the family. And we are a family. No rings on our fingers or paperwork to bind us (except for a lease and puppy adoption papers) but a little family nonetheless.
I have been looking forward to my thirtieth birthday since somewhere around my twenty-eighth birthday. Not because I thought I’d suddenly have my shit together or because I was planning some big “dirty thirty” blowout party. No, I’ve been excited about this milestone because as silly as it may sound, I’m starting to finally feel like an adult.
My twenties, like a lot of other people I know, were like taking a decade-long struggle bus ride. Sure, sometimes the bus would make some cool pit stops and the view from the window was occasionally amazing, but whether things were good or bad, they were almost always hard. Personally, professionally, physically, emotionally…you name it. There was no momentum, every movement forward was accompanied by backward slides and it always seemed like I was about two days from a complete and utter collapse. Until about six months ago.
With only a few months left in my twenties, I started to get the feeling that maybe, despite many years of worrying, I could actually manage this whole life thing. Like…I could pay bills and eat real food, be good at my job and have a functional, loving relationship. Someone would even entrust me with a cat! When bad things happened (because bad things will always happen) I could rebound and find a way through it. I could act like a functioning human being in the world and not feel like a total fraud. I could even feel (gasp) capable.
That’s thirty to me. That’s the glorious aura of not-a-twenty-something that I’ve been looking forward to for more than a year. It’s that certain something I sensed from women older than me who had survived the twenties trenches and are now kicking ass. It’s an eyes-on-your-own-paper give-no-fucks sort of attitude that I never thought I could pull off because I give so many fucks about so many things. But those things are starting to narrow down to what I can actually care about without taxing my emotional or physical energy reserves. What are the Kardashians up to? No idea! Did you hear about Giraffe Watch? Is that still happening? Is it over? No idea! Ah, such luxury and freedom. I can just see myself in five years having no idea what this year’s Mannequin Challenge is or what reality star is doing what.
Y’all, thirty is going to be good.