"Thirty" by Megan Wilson
I’ll admit I’ve been avoiding its eyes and the call for self refection in its gaze. Can’t we do this later? I’m busy.
Thirty was always a distant marker in the sand. Raising her hand to her forehead, squinting her eyes against the sun.
She turns her head away and makes her way towards the water. It’s deep and cold and all consuming. It bites against her warm skin as she throws herself in deeper and deeper until her toes no longer graze the soft and comforting floor. She kicks into its vastness.
I crossed the threshold of my thirties peering back at my twenties with the warm fondness reserved for a small child. A tender sigh when they stumble on their own feet and drop clumsily to their hands and knees. Okay, come on now. Upsy daisy we have somewhere to be.
I’ve crossed the threshold of my thirties carrying with me a much different perspective than I did in my twenties. It’s lighter to carry. At times I wish I could return to her, stop her in her path, and trade perspectives with her. Here, take this one. It’s easier to hold. I’ve got this one, it’s fine. No really, I got it.
But if she wasn’t forced to carry it herself, where would she be today? So, I don’t stop her. I let her walk on by without so much as a cursory nod. I turn around to watch her go – because what else can I do but know. Know that her hurt and her mistakes will swallow her whole. Know that she’ll turn her back on loss and pain, stuff it into a box and push it into the corner, buried beneath the clutter in a long-forgotten space. Know that loneliness will be an acquaintance she doesn’t care to be acquainted but who will continue to knock at her door and see himself in. Do you want a glass of wine? I have a bottle open. She pours a glass and brings it to her nose. Still good.
Know that her triumphs and glories and moments that will carve out the shape of her soul will come. Know that she’ll find a world with arms so wide that she can close her eyes and throw herself backwards into it. A world so sweet she’ll continuously run the tip of her tongue across her bottom lip just to make sure the sweetness is still there. It is. It’s still there.
As I take these first few strokes into this foreign body of water, I ask myself what I intended to ask myself all throughout my twenties. Does thirty look like what she envisioned? What she wanted? Well?
But before I can catch my breath, a new question bubbles up to the surface. Does it matter? No, it doesn’t. What matters is what thirty feels like.
I feel loved and am full of love. I feel proud of what I’ve done and a drive to do more. I feel spontaneous and adventurous. Rooted and nestled. Healthy and whole. I feel filled up by the living I’ve done and charged up for the living ahead. I’m full to the brim with laughter and remember whens.
Happy tears come easy these days. I stand in the corner of a light-filled room, balancing on my toes, my friend leaning into me in giddy anticipation. I look around at the happy faces of my friends and family, gathered in the name and act and spirit of celebration, and the world slows down just for a moment as I think to myself – when did we get here? The infinite conversations and decisions and efforts and complete and utter chances that tip-toed us towards where we are today. I feel grateful.
I want to grab onto these moments. Lodge a stick into the wheel of the universe and hold them in my hands. Turn them over. Feel their softness on my fingertips.
Truth be told, I don’t know how thirty looks for me or where that image stacks up against whatever cultural metric of success. Whatever staircase of social constructs. What I do know is that I feel happy.
I can feel the bottom again - the murky mud beneath my toes.
"Thirty" by Meghan Wilson.
Meghan Wilson was born and raised in Ottawa. She has a degree in business from Western University and works as a management consultant in Ottawa.