To you, at the pool, in your thirties.

June 28th, 2017

(for Mallory, who asked me to)

You are in your thirties–and which particular year isn’t apparent to me or at all important to you. Those second-place digits are just mathematical points along the blazing tail of a comet with you at its head, on fire with everything, hurtling towards the middle of your own life. 

So much is settled now, and so, there is so much to un-settle. Almost everything still feels possible, if not plausible, but for the first time you have–if not a sense, a rumor–of finitude. Somewhere in the distance, doors are closing, but you don’t live there yet. You spend your days picking and sorting through possible futures as if flipping back and forth through the pulpy pages of a choose-your-own-adventure story.  You decide to marry. To divorce. To stay together. To have a child. To not have a child. You decide you will have the affair. You decide you won’t. You decide your marriage can survive your spouse’s affair. You decide it can’t. You take the job, quit the job, start the thing, quit the thing, do the next thing. You decide to have children or you don’t. You decide to have the child you didn’t decide on. You decide you didn’t choose the child you couldn’t have. You decide you’re into women, or men, or both. You decide you don’t need god. You decide you do. You decide you can’t take one more minute. You decide to give it another shot. You pretend you are choosing, even when it’s not a choice. You pretend you didn’t choose, even when you did. So much on the outside is settled now, and so you are free to be unsettled on the inside. You boil beneath the skin of stability that stretches across your days.

You are more beautiful now than you have ever been, or will ever be–between childhood and old age–and it’s this volatility that makes you so–this late summer storm of your life. At last. You are becoming who you are. 



3 Responses to “To you, at the pool, in your thirties.”

  1. Angie says:

    I needed this. I sometimes feel like mid-thirties are such a let down from the anticipation of our twenties and the life changes that happen before we get into our comfy routines…. thank you for these beautiful words.

  2. Kimberly says:

    This really hits home as I prepare to leave my 30s for good this year…I’m mourning that time already where I found out who I was, but also still felt like I could do ALL THE THINGS. Teetering on 39, I know who I am more than ever, but I do see some of these doors closing, and others I thought would open just haven’t, or have only cracked and I wonder what’s taking them so long! Thanks for writing this!

  3. lomagirl says:

    so many doors I didn’t open and sometimes regret I never will now that I am late 40s- love this description of my 30s- so true in so many ways.

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