I was exhausted when I woke up the morning after my 27th birthday. I wondered if that was the physical manifestation of ‘age.’ The day before, I had competed in and won my first Crossfit competition, and barely made it to dinner at Bonefish Grill. I had a strawberry ice cream cake waiting for us and our 4 guests at home, but 3 of them bailed. I love my cousin, but I wouldn’t have been mad if he tapped out, too. I was possibly the most physically exhausted I’ve ever been. I wanted to shut down in every way.
One of the girls competing against me asked how old I was. I told her it was my birthday and that I was 27. She said with a smile “I’m 22,” like that was supposed to be some sort of consolation or explanation for why I was beating her. I was much stronger and fitter at 22 than I am at 27. Now I can barely run a 9-minute mile on a good day, and I have things like priorities that include another person’s well-being that can take precedence over my fitness. I did the competition because as I age, I need to make a point to prove to myself that I’m not letting myself go.
This exchange kind of embodied everything I think about on a birthday, especially as my cute, little twenties are slipping through my fingers. I have thought a lot about how things have changed since my 26th birthday, which, by the looks of it was the epitome of my twenties. A lot has changed in this one year and I think it has been the most change I have experienced in my life since moving from newborn to toddler from 1988-1989.
Last year, I was engaged, lean, employed, idealistic, and single (I am of the school of thought that you are single until you are married). Now I’m married… not lean, unemployed, and just here.
I had thought a lot about being married and talked about it a lot of course, but I had not anticipated what it would really mean to be one with another person. I imagined myself as being a singular person in a relationship with another singular person, but we are more like one blob with each having our own arm and leg. To me that means that I have my own interests and endeavors, as does he, but all of those are still controlled by the body that we control together.
There is not a lot left to explain about how I am not nearly as fit as I was last year. I actually lost 15 pounds over the course of 2014, and I was proud of myself. I felt in control. Now I weigh more than I did before I lost that 15 pounds and have for MONTHS. I still basically feel in control. I guess I’m easier on myself. I’m not really trying to impress people anymore. I’m also not judging people for getting fat after the wedding because I get it. I still want to lose weight though because I miss the freedom and I want to be my best self.
I don’t fit into my mint colored Michael Kors jeans now and apparently don’t fit on anyone’s payroll either. My readers are well aware of my employment status, but may not be aware of where I was a year ago. I loved the last company I worked for, I still love my manager, but I hated my job. More than a couple times I considered how long I would last if I just quit and lived off my savings. Freal. There were days when I sat in the parking lot for ten minutes just gathering the strength to go inside. It is hard not to appreciate the fact that I am no longer in that situation even if I can’t go on shopping sprees at Sephora. I understand even more how a state of being can be more valuable than money, even in terms of our family.
On the other side, I never would have expected to go through the changes I have been through with my career in this last year.Who anticipates going from a good job with a good salary to prolonged, endless, dizzying unemployment? I really thought I was a valuable candidate and now all I have to make me believe that is an orange post-it on my bathroom mirror. I never thought I would have to decide when it would be time to apply at Target. On the other side of this side, I think I’ll still be happy if I have to play a supporting role and don’t have the career trajectory I imagined. A year ago, I did not think I would go down without a fight, but now I see myself graciously acquiescing to my future on the B-team.
When I was single I was on the A-Team! I was flirty and sassy and independent! And I was wearing crop tops. It was important to me to be my own person. I knew I was going to be sacrificing a lot as a military spouse, so my goal was not to sacrifice my individual identity.
On my birthday last year, 3 of my friends were Tindering over dessert and I was a little jealous! I used to like to make people like me, but now that I have this marriage, I’m not that same sprite I was last summer. Sometimes I’m so preoccupied with being married that I don’t even say ‘hi’ to people in the grocery store. I had no idea I would just change. I had no idea my idea of ideal could change. And I never thought I would ever be dependent on another person. But now I gladly lay down those ideals for security and perpetuity with this guy who has paid ALL the bills for the last 8 months.
When I was turning 26, I lived in a live, pulsing city where I took Improv classes, went to sushi happy hours and baseball games, and had multiple friends. Now I live halfway across the country in a town with no real Groupon market and no network that I belong to. This is possibly the first time in life I realized how valuable people are. I have always striven to live life fluidly and let people go easily. Right here, people represent the construct of a whole other life I had. From my best friends, to my co-workers, to just people I saw regularly at the gym or at church. I miss them. I miss my life. This separation is what it means to close a chapter and start another.
If I can predict where I’ll be a year from now, I’ll still be at this duty station, hopefully employed, hopefully an ambassador to women, possibly (hopefully) pregnant, so probably not having a six pack. I hope I have a better idea of what I should expect from my career. I hope I’m still hanging on to people from Missouri, but I also hope I can make a life by cultivating my people here. I also hope that even though I’ll be a year closer to 30 I will be optimistic about what is in front of me, rather than trying to find the consolation to what I have left behind.