Unexpected Numbers

 

31 2

“31” by Flickr user “duncan c.”

When I was a kid, I thought thirty sounded like a magical age. I liked the number, because it was round and crisp and seemed very grown up. Precocious little thing that I was, I would tell people I couldn’t wait to turn thirty.

Well, last year I did. And thirty wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be.

When I was little, I thought that by the age of thirty, I’d be married, have two kids, and be on the New York Times Bestseller’s List (yes, I had stretch goals). I think the word to describe the picture that was once in my head is “settled.” Little did I know, a more apropos word would turn out to be “transition.”

A day after my thirtieth birthday, my fiancé (who was only my boyfriend at the time) and I got into a car and drove to San Diego. We were ready to build a whole new life together in California. There, we had a hip new downtown apartment, greater proximity to family, and the promise of salty sea air. Two days later, I started a new job in a new industry in which I’d need to learn new skill sets.

Quite frankly, nothing was settled. Everything was just beginning at thirty.

Okay, thirty isn’t the age I was thinking of as a kid, I thought. I was off a year, which makes sense. Let’s face it, you’re no good at math.

I knew thirty was going to be a rollercoaster, so I strapped myself in and tried not to hold my breath.

Now, a week away from my thirty-first birthday, I’m experiencing some Twilight Zone sort of déjà vu, because nothing has slowed down, and the adventure is continuing at a breakneck speed. My man and I got engaged on Christmas morning thanks to a Nancy Drew book and a Victorian ring, so wedding planning is a thing now.

A week and a half ago, we moved into a new apartment in a neighborhood that we love. Our new place has hardwood floors, ample space for my writing desk (hooray!), and is walking distance from … I believe we’ve counted nine breweries so far?

This past Monday, I began my dream job with a small, independent academic publisher. I’m creating content like a madwoman, they trust my writing and marketing expertise, and I have agency for days. This company offers intramural sports every day of the week (yoga, volleyball, bocce ball, basketball, and bootcamp) and encourage you to work hard, then play hard. I had to buy new jeans to fit their casual dress code (score!). They have a monthly book club. I’m completely in love.

Me and my fiancé, yeah, we’re anything but settled right now. Rather, we’re standing on the precipice of uncertainty again, throwing rocks, trying to gauge just how deep that big expanse of unknowing is.

But there are a few things I do know. This year, I’ll be thirty-one. I’ll be planning a wedding. I’ll be working my ass off in an industry I’m passionate about. I’m going to fail, and I’m going to win. I’ll be inviting friends over to dine al fresco on our fabulous, second-story outdoor patio. I’ll be making more effort to build friendships and find my people in this dynamic, gorgeous city. I’ll battle anxiety and depression. I’ll also enjoy unbridled happiness and buckets of excitement.

I’ll breathe—even though I’m airborne. Upside down. Taking curves at unnatural speeds. Screaming. Laughing. Crying. My belly will drop. My head will spin. I’ll beg to go again and again.

Thirty was a magical age. Thirty-one will be, too.

Let’s ride.

 

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R is for Restless

Photo by flickr user "David Noah1."

Photo by flickr user “David Noah1.”

Okay, it’s time to level with you all. The past few weeks have been hard. They’ve been hard because I’ve been feeling restless—and to be completely honest, a little depressed. Which is weird since it’s supposedly “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s been hard to get excited about giving the important people in my life “the perfect gift” (which is usually my favorite part of this season), hard to celebrate with friends and family, and hard focus on the true meaning of Christmas (Happy birthday, Jesus!) It’s been hard because my life is absent of creativity right now. And that’s…just…weird.

Quitting dance has been difficult. I mean, how do you give up something that’s been part of your life for 18 years? And not just that, something that’s been your biggest passion in life? I guess the answer is you give it up because it’s physically hurting you. But what’s next? Do you dare try to replace it with something else? What if it can’t be replaced? It’s really hard to get excited about new endeavors, because I don’t think I’m completely ready to let go of my past as a dancer. I keep comparing new opportunities to it. “Painting will never be dance.” It’s like a bad breakup. I want to move on and I know that I need to, but how the hell do you do it?

And don’t get me wrong. There are amazing things in my life right now. Jonny Church Band has given me a sense of community that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I’ve had more time for friends and family lately, which has been wonderful. Writing will always be an outlet for me, but 1) it’s not social and this girl is an extrovert; 2) I sit in front of a computer for close to eight hours a day at work, so it’s hard to get motivated to spend more time in front of a computer screen when I get home; and 3) the rejection emails from literary magazines are starting to get to me. A writer’s end goal is to share their work, and I’m not really getting that opportunity right now.  

I’m craving the chance to CREATE and SHARE something. Dance provided that tenfold. I loved teaching, because once a week (or however often I was teaching) I had to come up with something from scratch. I had to pick music, a mood, steps, and then teach others how to execute a routine. With burlesque performance, I came up with wild concepts, music, costuming, and then made it come to life onstage. Choreographing for community theater is still a viable option for me and I absolutely adore it, but when I’m in between projects…um, how do I fill that time and still get my creativity fill? Yep, R is for restless.

I need a new letter, people. I’m realizing this. And I might be ready to consider something new. Instead of R or D, perhaps I’ll consider…  

T is for theater. Like the performance side of it. I do miss acting. Maybe it’s time to sign up for an acting class or five.

S is for spoken word poetry. I love this community. I love the way spoken word makes me feel. And I have some pieces that I think are good enough to share. I’ve just been too chicken shit (or busy) to actually get on a mic.

S is for singing and songwriting. I’ve neglected Lucille, my guitar. It might be time to pick her up again and see if I can figure out some strumming and some song lyrics.

I guess I really just need some inspiration and some motivation to start moving away from what I used to do. I need a fresh start. I need to build a new identity that’s at least a little separate from dance.

Maybe it needs to start with a conversation that goes a little something like this…

“Dance, it’s not me—it’s you…”

 

Photo licensing – David Noah1