I’ve been 30 for a clean three-and-a-half months so far. It’s mostly been a very good thing, but any life transition, whether you seem to be trading up or down, entails trading off. For me, entering the neatly arranged, mostly dust-free annals of the legitimately Big People has definitely had a yin yang element to it. To wit:
1. Fewer heart-crushing rejections, more frequent episodes of heartburn. Finally, finally, I am in a happy long-term relationship and cohabitating successfully with a life partner. This is an inarguably good thing. Sadly, my twenty-something penchant for inflicting terrible heartbreaks on myself and then blaming the other person for the whole mess (except for the times when it was genuinely just totally their faults … Looking at you, Brent W. Piss off. And you’re not invited to read my blog anymore) appears to have done permanent damage to my blood-pumping chest organ. (Pall Mall, Gauloises and Montana cigarettes may also have played a role.) That meaty, cavernous muscle is still thumping stubbornly away (I ran four miles yesterday, what!) but I’m not the man I once was. I now struggle to abide: tomato products, painfully, wonderfully spicy foods (CURSES!!!!!), cheap beer, sleeping too long on my right side, and, for some bizarre reason, apples and apple cinnamon Cheerios. It’s a bum bum. Of course, if proffered some hypothetical choice between the two types of heartache, I must concede I’d rather swear off ketchup, ketchup-sized dollops of Sriracha and hot tamale candies, even if it makes things like pizza and eggs and Thai food taste not half as glorious.
B. A significantly diminished desire to sleep around, paired with a significantly impaired ability to sleep, in or otherwise. Now that the bulk of my weekend nights are spent cozily watching movies and drinking wine with my man, now that I’ve sworn off principal vices such as Boys and Excessive Boozing, and now that I no longer feel the need to eat four ecstasy pills whilst dancing my head off in a sleazy London club in an attempt to impress a bunch of strangers (who are, by the way, definitely not impressed by such things, especially when you proceed to vomit on their shoes and forget which country you are in and then suddenly it’s 8 a.m. and you wake up in a tube station feeling filthy and ashamed … figuratively speaking, I mean), considering all of that, you’d think I’d sleep as soundly as the angel that I have inadvertently become. I don’t. No matter how tired I am, I struggle mightily to drift off at bedtime, let alone to sleep in past 9 a.m. Make that a brisk and bright 6 a.m. if I’ve been drinking heavily, which is about as awesome as it sounds. And ditto for naps. Double even! Of a Sunday, I long for nothing more than to snuggle up in the rectangle of sunlight that cuts across our living room couch and shut my faculties temporarily down. My brain, however, thinks this idea is completely retarded, and usually tortures me with a noisy, shamey monologue to the tune of: HEY! YOU, MISSY! YOU HAVE SHIT TO DO! JUST OPEN YOUR RIGHT EYE A SMIDGE AND OBSERVE – OBSERVE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD – THE FILTH ON THE COFFEE TABLE AND THE OPEN WINDOW LETTING THE RAIN IN AND THE STACK OF WEEKLY NEWSMAGAZINES THAT ARE ABOUT TO BECOME IRRELEVANT BECAUSE YOU PICKED THEM UP IN PORTLAND TWO WEEKS AGO AND STILL HAVEN’T READ THEM YET AND HOW WILL THAT MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HAVE TO RECYCLE THEM, UNREAD? HMH? So, naturally, I give up on napping usually after the first few minutes. And the worst part of my sleeping-related reversal is that my inability to sleep in no way translates to me not being completely exhausted. Did I just drop a double negative? You bet.
• An abiding patience for the struggles of the young, the elderly and the (genuinely) afflicted, paired with a rapidly vanishing patience for the problems of everyone else. My ability to endure unfounded complaining and whining seems to be inversely proportionate to the number of hours I work in a given week. But I’m not sure I mind. You see, this calculus of long days and ever-shortening intra-personal fuses has cleared the path for a revelation of sorts: for some people, the essential act is having the problem, not solving the problem. Which is fine, but at this point in my rapidly advancing years, I only have the energy to involve myself in the alleviation of legitimate suffering. Even then, I do a pretty crappy job, but I support and endorse such work heartily. To my mind, there is no work on this earth that is bigger or more important that the work that asks us to grow, to challenge ourselves, to become better. Priorities!
Finally. What I like to call The Big Point 3, or the The thirty-three-and-a-third rule of hitting your third full decade on earth: Whatever youth giveth, be it wasted or not, or wanted or not, age is prone taketh and reshapeth into something way the hell more sensical and symmetrical. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.