another year

Last Saturday, I turned 31.  It’s not a huge milestone, other than that I’m officially in my thirties. Even saying that seems odd to me, and I wonder where time has gone.

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The man surprised me by inviting a few friends out for a surprise dinner. Two of the friends were two of the dearest I have from college. As we ate bruschetta and had drinks, the story telling began. By the end of the night, the thing that shocked me most was that more than a decade has past since I entered college.

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a few months old

Last week at work we started interviewing candidates for a graduate program. As I listened to all the young twenty somethings talking about their dreams, desires, and the goals they’ve had since they were children, I began thinking of my own. I wondered where they had gone. Somewhere, way back when, I had wanted to be an English teacher like my mother had been. And somehow, I’m not even close to that dream.

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me & mom, just hanging out

I became depressed that night, and it stayed with me for nearly a week. Thinking about goals that have been pushed aside in favor of real life is never comforting. I can imagine where changes in my life could have taken me had I not lost my father, or had I applied to different colleges, or had I moved home after graduation.

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the first two men in my life: Dad & Ken

I dreaded my birthday this year, for the first time in a long time. I’m used to my birthday being shoved aside because it is so close to Christmas, but I’ve never truly dreaded it the way I did this year.  There was a pit in my stomach as the day approached.  There would be no party hats and birthday cake or singing.

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Mickey’s Fun Cottage birthday party

But somehow it all turned out to be amazing. The dinner with friends. A weekend with my mom and aunt. My coworkers surprising me by decorating my office and even baking me a black forest cake – my dads specialty.

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me & Aunt Susan at my Communion

And somehow, suddenly, 31 wasn’t so terrifying anymore. I may not have the perfect car, or the perfect job, or the perfect wardrobe.

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But I do have a lot of things. Married with a house and two cats. A job that pays the bills (most months). Dreams that are waiting to be fulfilled, not dead. That is enough.

Happy Birthday to me.

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vintage birthday cake by dad – 1984