A few weeks ago I held my first evening get together at my home. Thankfully the weather was wonderful and we could shuffle everyone outside to occupy our spacious patio area.
The cause for the celebration? That day I officially made it to 30 years on this earth.
I remember back to the cusp of graduating high school. At that point in my life, I had absolutely no clear vision of what came after. Yes, at that point I was accepted and confirmed to be attending Northeastern University as an incoming freshman in the fall of 2003. However, it felt so overwhelmingly foreign to me, like it wasn’t really me who was going on to do something else in my life! There was no chapter that followed graduation, no sequel to the book I had written, I just felt like after high school graduation my story would end and the covers of the book would shut and things would fade to black.
The reality was that my story didn’t end there even though everything in my head told me it would. In fact, this time in my life marked the beginning of a long epic that I was about to embark on. I had only lived to the part where Bilbo Baggins decides to leave the Shire and venture on his great adventure. Looking back now, this pattern of thinking was largely caused by my crippling clinical depression that made it impossible to make any kind of long-term plans imaginable. It wouldn’t be the last time I would face self created obstacles in my life, but how I envisioned and responding to them would change.
I touched a little on this in the presentation I gave at this year’s Open Source & Feelings conference, but there have been a number of periods since I was 15 where I had significant dark times that tended to cloud my judgement and influenced my work and outlook on the world. My most recent bout was very serious which makes it all the more important to take time out in my life to do personal self-care check ups. With these checkups, I can identify when a possible trying time is impending.
When my husband Adam hit the 30 milestone last year, neither he nor I knew how to best mark the occasion. After his birthday I could tell that he wasn’t exactly thrilled to be that age, however I noticed a definitive difference in myself. Since probably December I think I mentally already considered myself 30, and embraced it.
For the first time in my life, I not only had a clue about the next thing I wanted to do with my life, I was confident and prepared. I had overcome my own destructive thinking that the impending date of the anniversary of my birth wasn’t a swan song of lost days gone by, it was a celebration of triumph and a big come on to the world to give me its best shot at whatever was next I could handle it with the tools I had been given.
That’s why, the only way I saw fit to mark my holiday was a big celebration with those who had been a part of my life up to this moment.
For that evening I curated a great menu of smokey beef brisket, seasoned barbecue chicken, and creamy macaroni and cheese from Fletcher’s in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For our vegetarian friends, Adam was inspired to craft an artichoke and spinach lasagna dripping with mozzarella cheese and savory tomato sauce, a recipe he perfected in tastes tests in the week leading up to the party.
Refreshments were selected by my dad and me after brainstorming appropriately and decided on a mixture of beers, wine, and a drink dispenser filled with what I was told to be a “Tennessee Palmer.” I made a tactical error in forgetting of a long-held tradition in NYC where people bring their own to a party and therefore, like Jesus and the bread and fish, ended up with more beers than we started with. (On a side note, anyone interested in drinking a bunch of quality beers that were left at my house?)
I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out and that my friend Kate from college drove in with her husband Dave from New Hampshire to spend the weekend. Family from Oregon, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey all trekked in to join us. Along with friends from within the 5 boroughs the group consisted of colleagues, social circles, and partners in the many projects I am a part of. It helped me realize how blessed I am to have such amazing people in my life.