Tomorrow is my birthday. I've never been very fazed about age - mine is well within the proper parameters to be addressing the Zone demographic, I assure you - so much as concerned with time. It always seems there aren't enough hours, enough days, enough years to do all the things you want to do. The years sneak up on you, and you realize you've never finished school or saw the Grand Canyon or skydived or wrote a book or finished watching "Breaking Bad" on Netflix.
Birthdays are a fun time, where you mom tells the annual story of the magical morning she woke up in mind-numbing pain and went to the hospital and had you and brought you home and then your dad locked everyone out of the house and had to break in through the window (true story). It's a good opportunity to get together with friends and let everyone take cheap shots at your age. But it's also a reminder to think, an annual appointment to do a life assessment. Like, so far, I've accomplished this, this and this. What do I still want to do? How long do I have to do it?
I've done a lot of stuff I wanted to do. Friends, moments, smiles, places, feelings. I've seen oceans, sunsets, sunrises, shooting stars, night skies. There's many accomplishments and goals and hurdles and rites of passage under my belt. I don't have much of a so-called bucket list. Day to day, your priorities, wishes and dreams change. You can only do what you can to make yourself proud and happy by the end of each day.
But as far as the things I haven't done yet, how much time do I have to do them? How late is too late to start writing that novel, or change careers, or go backpacking through Europe? And are there things that everyone should do? Should everyone see Paris, own their own home, do volunteer work, or help save the world?
I'm beginning to feel a time deadline wearing down on me. Am I too old to, say, move to New York City and start writing, living in a shoebox and living off foldy pizza? Did I miss my window to start a band and become a spunky girl singer? Do I still have time to move a thousand miles away and experience a new city before even thinking about marriage and a family? Do I only have so many more years where I can be part of a scene, start a revolution, or be cool? How old is too old to wear baby barrettes in your hair?
I've never put much stock in the words "age-appropriate." I try to be tactful, well-mannered and professional.
But who's to say that tomorrow I won't be able to wear a dress I wore two or three birthdays ago (besides the size tag)? Is there an expiration date on dyeing your hair pink, eating Pez, wearing battered Chuck Taylors or hanging around people who were in preschool when Kurt Cobain died? Can I still have parties, and can I still crash ones thrown by college kids? I am sure that I will end up doing what feels natural, even if I am breaking some kind of etiquette or am making a fool of myself. I guess that's called "being yourself."
If you can tell by my past columns, I've been trying to prove the hypothesis that you can take your youth with you, and incorporate all the best parts of your life into your future. Even if you don't know where you're going, your old stuffed bear and favorite sneakers and Bert and Ernie and all the jokes and video games and the T-shirts you had in high school are going with you.
It may be too late to be a Beat poet in NYC (about 50 years too late), and my frat party days may be done, but I am by no means grown up, even if I am getting older. So this birthday, I'll snap a yellow duck barrette in my hair and get started on the rest of my life.