In twelve hours and four minutes, I’ll be 31 officially. As is often the case on my birthday, I’ve been reflecting back on the years that have come before. The experiences that helped craft me into who I am right now in time. I know there are people that believe in forgetting the past and basing their existence on the now, but I have never been able to be that way. I’m intrinsically who I was, as well as who I am and who I will be. Perspective and nostalgia are powerful beings like that.*
I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately; how my relationship to the feeling has evolved, and how what love means and really is has changed, too. About how love used to be a lot about my internal self and how I felt. About how love used to be seemingly easy to exist, which meant it was also easy for someone to tell you it didn’t exist. About how in many ways, I was often not ready for the love I was receiving but didn’t know what that meant or why (to be fair, I still don’t quite know why…but I get that it was happening). All this is tied up in my own emotional maturity. In the past, on some levels, I had it with family and friends. In romantic relationships though I was more clueless than a puppy being handed a kazoo.
Now, love is about something more – it’s about how two or more people create a community together and thrive because of one another, not in spite of each other. About how love may or may not come easily, and no one can take it away from you with words or actions or otherwise: you’re at your own mercy. About how love is also a sense of maturity I’m not sure I can articulate well because it’s a foreign sense even in myself, even at 31.
Last night, some friends and I were talking about how we knew we were our ages. For the most part, none of us felt our age. Sea knew she was her age because recovering from a night of drinking wasn’t as fast, but at the same time, she never drank in excess anymore. Simone felt like she was 25, pointing out that was incomprehensibly closer to being a decade before than it was not. I felt 15 and 26 and 50 all rolled into one, and it was not until this morning I realized how I knew I am not those ages.
After coffee and songs and presents, I thought about what I could do with my day. I’m in a lucky position where my day is structured around what I see fit, meaning both I overwork most days because I have no commute and am never not “in my office” (aka, sitting in front of my computer in a variety of spots around my room) but I also have the freedom to do something else. And this morning, all I could think about doing with my free time was cleaning my apartment top to bottom, then going on a long run. A desire to dust and mop on the one day I could get away with watching Parenthood episodes says a lot about my actual age.
I wonder if love at 31 is like that desire to be cleaning. It’s being responsible and at the same time relishing that responsibility. It’s the freedom to overwork some days, underwork others, but knowing the best option is a happy medium.
*One morning after a cousin’s birthday, my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ando let us have chocolate cake for breakfast in their Southern California home, which is the exact reason why being handed a piece of pie this morning by a friend felt comforting and happy and very birthdaylicious.