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2008-08-18 - 8:49 a.m.


Today is the last day of my thirties. This might be one reason to be a little bit uneasy or even depressed. Alternatively, I can be thankful about what a great decade it was, and be excited about the next ten years of the effects of excess gravity on my ever changing body.. I think I'll choose the latter.

I started my thirties at a bar in J*na (La Boheme). It was my third week living in Germany, and I knew all of five people in the town (perhaps ten people in the whole country..). One of those people was my boss Attila - back in the days when we liked each other. In fact, she arranged the margarita party for me, and invited all of the people I knew, and added a few people she thought I'd like to meet - people who could appreciate what it felt like to be alone at a new job in a new country.

We drank all of the tequila in the bar, and then we walked up the hill to my boss's house and ordered pizza and started in on their white wine collection. One of my friends wound up sacked out in my boss's basement. It was quite a night, and just what I needed, because it showed me that even when you feel like you are alone - without your oldest and dearest friends around you - you can still surround yourself with amazing and interesting and good people, some of whom will be with you ten years later. (In fact, the basement sleeper, his wife, and newborn child will be visiting us next week!).

From that point forward, the decade of my thirties was a huge, fabulous adventure. I had LOTS of bad moments, but the cliche holds. I wouldn't give it up for the world. My body may have started its road towards aging, but my mind and will were getting ever stronger. I knew what I wanted. I learned to explore and celebrate my strengths, and with that came an ability to love the people around me more deeply. I visited about a dozen new countries, and learned to live among people who grew up with lives that were quite different from my own. And the novelty of learning their stories made me feel young.

The latter part of my thirties morphed from a time of adventure and learning into settling, and a practice at finally being an adult. I became a professor. I moved back to my country of origin. For me, after seven years away, it was the same as moving to a place where I knew no one, except that it was worse because most people did not understand my discombobulation - they viewed that I was just "moving home." In fact, it was a much tougher adventure than living in former East Germany. In retrospect, that time felt a little bit like a tunnel I had to pass through to get to where I am now.

So where am I now? Well, to certain extent I'm still on that journey to adulthood (I don't think we ever actually REACH it, do we?). The nice thing, though, is that I feel a lot less like I'm in a tunnel, and more like I'm on a very wide path. And furthermore, I feel like I have several people on the path with me. And if I squint and look out hard enough, I can see all of those people that I met through my 20s and 30s and wave at them on their own paths (except for the ones who are temporarily in tunnels of their own...). We're miles apart yet still together in the sense that we are doing the same thing - living.

The Path is a pretty tired metaphor, I know. But I use it because I don't feel like I'm so terribly focused anymore (in a tunnel), but I also don't feel like I've arrived anywhere in particular. I just feel like I've learned more to enjoy what's around me, but I feel okay with disliking some things about where I am, too. I'm happy to experience intensely but I'm learning to hold back and relax from time to time as well (a lesson that I'm working on RIGHT NOW as I prepare for the onslaught of returning to work...).

And what do I anticipate in my 40s? Or what do I want for my 40s??

Some things should stay the same or continue in the same direction, definitely, but turning 40 is making me crave an adventure. But I expect the adventure to have a slightly different flair to it.

I love my partner and friend, and my new daughter is a joy. I want to keep the time that I spend with them, and ensure that I always make time to enjoy how wonderful they are.

I want our lives to become more physical. I want us to take a journey together - like our momentous trip to Wales - where we can walk in a countryside and breathe in the scenery. But I also want us to enjoy more regular walks and rides together, and to recognize that this time is also important.

I want to spend more time with my parents (and recognize that K should spend more time with HIS parents, too).

I want to come back to the world of science. I want to feel that buzz of discovering something new, and working on it with other people.

I want to feel like I'm out in the world again, but as the person who has accumulated her own bumps, scratches, and experiences, and those little crinkles around the eyes.

I want to enjoy what happens to my body next. The decades of my 20s and 30s have past. They represented the peak of my body, but not the peak of my mind, and not the peak of my life. I want to actively participate in how my body and mind change next, and celebrate the balance of how the two move together.

Oh, and I want to lose 25-30 pounds. ;-)

So today I celebrate the last day of my thirties. And tomorrow, I'm excited to launch into that next, eventful decade, full of people I love, memories I cherish, and a openness to meet new people and create new memories as the person I've become.

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