I started planning my 30th birthday months ago. All of my favorite people from three different cities I’ve lived in were to converge at a hacienda in Puerto Penasco, Sonora. They would meet and mingle and suddenly my disorderly 20’s would merge together into a single golden thread of continuity and harmony.
Well, that plan fell through.
My birthday this year happened to coincide with yet another big move: to Oakland with my boyfriend. It simply wasn’t feasible to travel from LA to Oakland to Mexico and back to Oakland in the same week. And between quitting my job in L.A. early (so as not to inconvenience them? What was I thinking?), and paying a much needed visit to Tucson, I was running out of money faster than you can say ballsupbingo.com.
The fella and I then lined up an Oakland residence unavailable until August 10th, and lo and behold: I was unemployed and homeless on my 30th birthday.
We had set aside just enough to rent a room for the night in the coastal redwoods near Bodega Bay. The place was equipped with a hot tub, and silent, save for the chirping of birds and a babbling creek obscured by bright green foliage fit for a rainforest. We arrived with a basket (okay, a paper bag) full of goodies we’d payed too much for at a fancy market in Petaluma: tortas, chèvre, several salads, a large bottle of Goose Island’s Matilda, an assortment of olives, and a tiny little dutch apple birthday cake, which doubled as an incendiary device when loaded with 30 candles, one to represent each of my different neuroses.
The evening should have been delightful, but unfortunately I’d been feeling off all day. Though I’d woken up that morning to a salmon quiche and coffee in bed in a surprisingly comfortable non-sleazy motel room, from there it was all downhill.
At lunch, not one, but two birds decided to use my good hair day as an outhouse. I’d wanted to show my boyfriend the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco, but the crowds were horrendous and everything was irritating me. I got caught in a feeling-sorry-for-myself feedback loop, which quickly morphed into a why-have-I-accomplished-nothing-in-life-so-far-and-omg-I’m-actually-thirty-years-old loop to go along with the uneasiness in my stomach.
When we arrived at the cabin, I briefly talked myself back to living in the moment. We feasted on the delicacies my sweet boyfriend had splurged on. We discussed our hopes and dreams for this new life in the Bay Area. We soaked in the hot tub, but I couldn’t get comfortable, or out of my own head. I made a half-drunk wish for mental clarity and blew out my fireball of candles, but couldn’t stomach a bite of cake. Exhausted, I dozed off on accident just after 9pm and awoke to an ominous gurgling from within the depths of my stomach.
I proceeded to spend the next six hours vomiting. Happy birthday to me.
Of course I had food poisoning, but I couldn’t help but think that my mental and emotional state had aggravated the issue. I’d had such high hopes for this seemingly arbitrary day. What difference does it make? Why is 30 such a big deal? Why did I feel the desire to try and “make sense”of my twenties anyway? That’s not really a thing you can do.
A quick google showed me that I apparently didn’t hit my quarter-life crisis at 26 like I thought I had, but that the time is now for all things whiny and what-does-it-all-mean-y. Or its a “pre-30 crisis”, which I guess could span four years? Whatever.
I could go into a list of problems and solutions, of “you’re-not-the-only-one”s, but not only is the internet full of those lists, I have an inkling that those lists aren’t helping. In the last thirty years or so, I’ve started to notice that the more I coddle these crises, the more crises I have to coddle.
Sure, I’m 30 and broke and have no job prospects or specialized skills. Sure, I’m socially awkward and sometimes say stupid things and I’m not famous like I thought I was going to be when I was 11 years old, and two birds shit on my head and I puked a bunch on my birthday. But I just moved into an awesome house with someone I love who constantly goes out of his way to make me happy and I have several friends trying to help me get a job and my mom loves me.
I’m making a decided effort to cheer up. And when my mind wants to interject negatives, I can calm it with a piece of brilliance from the effervescent Amber Mortensen: “Welcome to being human, ya pussy.”