I never feel my age.
When people remark on my youthful appearance, I feel exactly the age they say I look like. When faced with a major responsibility or task, I feel younger. When I look at what people typically do at my age, I lose numbers and feel nothing & everything at once.
By the same token, I never felt birthdays. I never woke up on September 17th and remarked on how I now felt a sweet 16, or 21, or 25, or any of the years in between.
A new age was typically a slow burn, a gentle rumble. Slipping into another year older like I’m slipping into a new routine. A gentle recognition that I’m no longer the previous age. And sometimes the age itself slips away and I have to do a quick set of math in my head — the current year minus 1986, or my little brother’s age plus 2.
But I felt 30. I felt 30 wash over me as the nighttime festivities happening the day before my birthday slowly gave way and I sat in my car, sunroof open, my eyes on the night sky, counting down the minutes to midnight like it’s New Years. I felt 30 slip into the car like a welcomed passenger when the clock struck 12 and it was technically, officially my birthday.
My hippy, mystical side points to everything that happened on September 16th – full moon, lunar eclipse, the last harvest moon falling close to the equinox, and all of this happening in my astrological house. Right before my birthday, no less. All the astrologists pointing to important changes, a sense of empowerment, new beginnings. And even if it’s all mumbo-jumbo and pattern-matching and yet another bit of human folly, I appreciate it. Bare minimum, it’s symbolic. Regardless as to its validity, I feel all of it ushered in with my new age.
Amidst a weekend filled to the brim with exciting, fun, slightly scary, slightly exhausting adventures, I give myself a chance to look in the mirror. Really look. The lines in my forehead have been getting more pronounced. The skin around my eyes folds a little more when I smile. My face has become more angular. I stare at my reflection and she stares back, her gaze a little more intimidating than before, her eyes telling a slightly different story than they did when they were younger. And I walk away owning it, owning everything, owning the person I’m turning into. If I could’ve, I would’ve owned the air around me.
I feel it. I feel 30 like the dawn of a new season, like the day after a rainstorm. I feel 30 come at me not like a truck or a hurricane, but like a beloved, sassy friend, exclaiming, “There you are, you sexy bitch. What took you so long?” before taking me in their arms.
I wear 30 like a form-fitting dress, hugging everything that needs to be hugged, accentuating everything that I want accentuated. I wear 30 like the perfect pair of jeans, like the shoes that give your stride power and purpose, like the necklace that proves how elegant you were in the first place. And 30 fits like the outfit I should’ve been wearing all along.
I carry my new age with me, through daredevil adventures that I hope I never give up on, around friends that I hope I never lose, across trips down paths that harken back to timeless moments. I carry my new age with me as people continue to remark that I don’t look this age, look that age — that I look straight out of college, even though the college grads all look like babies to me.
I carry 30 as I make plans — new plans, old plans, vital plans. I carry 30 as I let other things go uncharted. I carry 30 the way I want to always be carrying myself: with pride, with dignity, like a badge of honor.
I carry 30 like one last “fuck you” to all things I thought I was supposed to be, all the outdated, toxic programming that held me back, all the expectations that kept things stagnant. I carry 30 like a prominent middle finger, thrilled to be adding on the years so long as I keep making sure those years mean something.
I feel 30 the way I feel the glow of a sunrise. I feel 30 the way I feel that first sip of coffee. I feel 30 the way I feel things clicking into place, cards falling the way they’re destined to fall, the world making perfect sense through the rearview mirror.
I feel 30. And damn it feels good.