Three Fridays remain before I leave my 30s. For the next three Fridays, I’m going through journals and sharing entries that represent the decades of my life.
When I was 20, I was terrified that I’d never get married. I’d seen a couple of friends get married, and my roommates were always dating up a storm, and I was completely panicked–at 20–that I’d end up alone for the rest of my life. Oh, karma/irony/fates/God/whatever. Stellar sense of humor the cosmos has, no?
Here’s the funny thing about when I was 20: I have no journals from that summer.
I know I went to Canada that summer. I know I biked about 35 miles a week that summer. I know I worked at Taco Bell from 11 AM-8 PM five days a week.
I have a letter from my roommate Aimee and a birthday card from my friend Mike, and nothing else.
I started the summer by dating pretty much anyone I felt like, but by the end of May I had narrowed it down to two guys, both named Chris. That made it pretty easy. By the end of June, one Chris had enough of sharing my time and said I had to choose. Since he asked, I chose him.
(I chose poorly, by the way. Although the other Chris wasn’t all that decent either.)
By the time my birthday rolled around, we had broken up and gotten back together at least twice, and it would be another year–about a week before my birthday–before we would break up once and for all. The last thing he ever said to me?
“No one will ever want to marry you.”
He told me that 19 years ago. He got married six months later. Sometimes I wonder what he knew that I didn’t.
Anyway. I don’t have any journals from that summer, probably because I was either at work or with him and never wrote, and he didn’t think that writing was a good use of my time. You know, since it took away from worshipping him and all.
But if I’m honest with myself, I can say that on my 20th birthday, I am sure I felt loved–or at least what I thought love should look like at 20–and I am sure I had hope for my future. And that’s really not a bad way to spend a birthday, no matter what happened in the following 365 days.
Four Fridays remain before I leave my 30s. For the next four Fridays, I’m going through journals and sharing entries that represent the decades of my life.
|The outline of my 10 year-old hand, drawn in the front cover of my journal.|
August 13, 1983
Summer was really fun. We went to Lion Country Safari. Boy, it was really hot there. The Marines were flying overhead and hurt everyone’s ears!
We also went to the LA Zoo. They have Koala bears–something that the Henry Doorly Zoo doesn’t have!
Last but not least: we went to Sea World! I was soaked to the skin with salt water just trying to pet a dolphin. We have a real fun time!
We did all of that in California. Then we went to Utah. We went to BYU and Temple Square. We had real fun there. Before we went to So. Cal. and Utah we went to a family reunion. We did a lot of things. We swam, we watched video tapes, just plain fun.
Then back home, but……we’re going back on vacation for my Nana and Gramps 50th Anniversary. And to Disneyland.
|Saturday at Waubonsie State Park, overlooking the Loess Hills in Iowa.|
I’ve been thinking a lot about the past 20 years, and how I’ve changed. And I’m not talking about changes like how much more assertive and outspoken I’ve become in my old age (case in point: while teaching Sunday School yesterday, I ranted for 30 seconds about commodified spirituality. I don’t think I would’ve done that 10 years ago).
No, the changes I’ve been thinking about are more about what I used to do. Specifically, what I used to do outdoors.
I spent summers at local swimming pools, even though I tended to burn more than tan. I hiked the mountains of Montana and biked trails in Utah and even camped. I still refuse to camp anywhere but Glacier, mostly because I can’t handle the humidity of the Great Plains. But there’s really no reason for me to hibernate year-round like I’ve done in recent years. I’ll admit–the main reason I stopped hiking was because I spent years being snobby about what hiking meant. Hiking was a mountain activity, and since I no longer live near mountains, I could no longer hike.
But Friday night I actually craved hiking. I wanted to just find a trail somewhere, put on some music, and get a little lost.
So Saturday I drove about an hour south to a Waubonsie State Park in Iowa, found a trailhead, and hiked for about two miles. The maps at the park weren’t the best, so I didn’t complete the trail I picked. Shaded and pocked with snake holes, this trail headed downhill at a pretty steep rate. The further into the trail I went, the less I wanted to climb up the hills on my way back. So I turned around before I hit the end, trudged up the hills I had climbed, and sat at the top for a few minutes, where I took the photo above.
It felt so good to be on a trail, doing something I loved but had neglected for several years. The plan for the rest of the summer is to hike more trails, even if it means waking up early to beat sweltering temperatures. Hopefully this summer will be a tad cooler than last summer.
I haven’t blogged much recently for a couple of reasons.
1. I’m not really doing a whole lot.
2. Except for reading, and I don’t really want to blog about the books I’m reading. And playing Candy Crush Saga, but I don’t think being stuck on Level 60 for 3 days is really compelling writing material.
3. The things that are on my mind are, well, uncomfortable.
I don’t really like to whine here about my personal life (at least I hope I haven’t made a habit about that, political rantings aside) because I know plenty of people have a way worse lot than I. And because my mom reads this regularly and I don’t really want her to freak out about the inner workings of my brain, or react to them in any other way. But without students to distract me, I’m getting pretty good at throwing daily pity parties for myself about what will happen in 34 days.
I will turn 40.
I try to deflect. I tell my parents they must feel crazy old since they now have a daughter in her 40s. I tell my sister that she must feel crazy old since she’s married to a Lt. Col. in the Air Force, and I can remember when our own father pinned on Lt. Col. and he was soooooooo old. I tell my other sister that she must feel crazy old since her oldest kid is finishing junior high next year.
These same markers of what should make me feel old are completely absent from my life. The only thing that really makes me feel old, at least on a cognitive level, is when I’ve been sitting too long or in bed too long and my joints start to hurt. Or, conversely, when I start to feel like the grandparents in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory kinda had a nice life, staying in bed all day.
Other than that, I don’t feel old.
But 40 approaches, ready or not, and I hyperventilate a little about it each day. And since I’m not currently in therapy, writing becomes the therapy. So for the next month, I’ll be blogging about all things age, and probably all things Mormon, because let me tell you…I wonder if 80% of my angst about being 40 and single has to do more with the fact that I’m Mormon, and less to do with the fact that I’m 40 and single. And since I’m revising my book, I’ll probably throw in an excerpt here and there just to mix things up.
Someone once told me that her 40s was when she finally felt like she didn’t have to please people, that she started living her life for herself, and stopped caring about what people thought of her. Which is why I will probably eat like a Hobbit on my birthday: sushi for lunch, Cheesecake Factory for Second Lunch (shut up Tolkien purists, I know it’s Second Breakfast. I don’t plan on being awake until 10 or 11. At least I’m currently planning on getting out of bed in the first place.), Mother India for dinner, and half a jello cake for Second Dinner.
I will try to keep some days lighter than others, and if you don’t want to read a month’s worth of therapy about being old and Mormon and single, then come back in August, when I’ll be back to blogging about TV and school and movies and whatever else.
In the meantime…it’s 8:15, so I should probably go to bed. You know how it is with the old.