The Time I Turned 29

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What's age besides a number? Mine is now twenty-nine, and so much more. One year gone, one year closer to 30.

The number is not as interesting to me as what you do with the years. At 18, you can vote, and at 21, you can drink, but most people don't feel like adults until way later. If we're putting a number on it, people are saying 29. Seems like a long jump from puberty, but most young people don't feel like adults until a few adult things happen, like buying a home, marrying someone, making a baby, or nailing down a job and a place to lay your head.

But there is no guarantee. It's easy to spot plenty of people with homes and babies and important jobs acting like they should still be in grade school. We like to imagine adulthood is a time when things make a bit more sense, but the truth is it doesn't get any easier. Comedian Joe Rogan said it better than anyone ever could - "You know as much about what life is all about as anybody whose ever lived, ever." We pretend or believe, but no one can be sure.

A year older and what I've gained is another year’s worth of experience. I saw Ireland again and Iceland for the first time. I watched my baby sister graduate, get married, and start getting pregnant recently. I got drunk with my brother and his friends down the Jersey shore. I had flings and something more. I hiked and camped and blacked out one night in December, riding the subway until morning. I just did more. It's like Louis C.K. said in his special, Oh My God: "Life is an education and if you're older, you're smarter. I just believe that. If you're in an argument with somebody and they're older than you, you should listen to them. It doesn't mean they're right, it means that even if they're wrong, their wrongness is rooted in more information than you have."

Of course, with age, I was wrong sometimes too. I could be wrong again in the same way another year down the line. But ever since graduating from college, my plan was to find a good job and break into the city. Selfishly, I wanted a space of my own, to control my environment. I could fill my own apartment with pots and pans, hand soap and shower curtains. I would choose it all and I did. I bought a 40-inch television and watched Saturday Night Live most weekends.

But most nights I was alone, trying to find out what to do next. And that feels like the whole point of blowing out the candles, wishing for something more. I just I knew I had to do it. If I didn't see the world from four stories up, I would have never known that there are better things. You can't know these things reading books or hearing stories, you really need to experience them yourself. 

What's hardest to learn is seeing it through everyone else's eyes. We're bouncing around from idea to idea, place to place, because there is no one true answer. We're floating on, getting engaged or married or pregnant, making friends or losing them, moving here or there or settling down. We're human, we need to embrace the whole damn thing. 

I have one good year left in my twenties and I want to spend it on the good stuff. I want to devour books, connect with friends over meals, roll with the punches, and just feel alive through deep breathes and big scares. After all, what else is there?