So today is my 31st birthday. And to be honest, I’m quite psyched. Because I’m pretty much the age now that I’ve felt, on the inside, most of my life. And I wake up most days feeling like “fuck yeah my life!”
Which is a good, good place to be and something I will try never, ever to take for granted.
A couple of observations for today.
|baby Anna and mother Janet, early April 1981|
1. Five days after my mother turned thirty-one, she gave birth to me. So I feel like, on some level, this is the point at which my own life narrative and my mother’s life narrative diverge. Which is super-overly-simplistic, really, given that before she was thirty-one my mother did lots of other things I also haven’t done (e.g. date people, get married, get divorced, go to college for architecture, work as a waitress, and go snorkeling in the Cayman Islands). But — all judgyness about parenting/not parenting aside ’cause we don’t really do that in my family — there’s no way to get around the fact that spending your thirties as the full-time parent of three children under the age of ten is going to make for a significantly different kind of decade than the one I have stretching out before me.
Which feels a little weird. Like an opportunity, but weird. One of those moments, as a kid, when you realize your parents — however great they’ve been as models — can only model so far, and so much, before you’re on your own, inventing a life.
2. Not-library things I want to do in my thirties. So I’ve got the next decade before me, an open book. And Hanna and I are settling into life together. Which is really something rich and strange and rather unexpected (I had this notion in my head, for a long time, that I’d probably end up a spinster — in the nicest possible way! I was kinda looking forward to it. But, you know, then Hanna came along and how could I not?). So I have the luxury of thinking about what I’d like to do with myself, other than my professional and partnership activities. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Travel to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland. I mean, duh. Travel is definitely near the top of my list of things to do with discretionary income (after “buy books” and “eat good food”).
- Write and publish erotica. Turns out, at least in the estimation of a few friends (of a range of sexual persuasions) that I have a talent for the stuff. Who knew! But I enjoy writing it and they enjoy reading it, so it seems like it might be fun to try my hand quasi-professionally there.
- Find ways to be with young people and age-diverse families. So I’m not going to have children of my own, it looks like. And I’m 95% cool with that. But I’d like to use part of my time this next decade thinking about how my household of two-adults-plus-cat can be hooked into wider networks of caring that encompass families with more age diversity. None of our intimate friends or family have chosen to incorporate children into their lives yet; I’m kinda hoping a few of them do so that we have the opportunity to be kick-ass aunties.
- Choose and/or create a home. Okay, well, yes. We obviously already have a home together, Hanna and Geraldine and I. But it’s an apartment that started out as a student space, a temporary space, and something not actually selected by both of us, as a couple. It would be nice if, in the next decade, we actually found a home-space through more deliberate selection according to our needs and desires as a family.
- Research and writing. I have yet to publish that first scholarly monograph. Now with a thesis under my belt, I feel I can move on to other projects — so hello life-long learning! I’m really looking forward to nosing around and finding my niche as a thinker and writer. Not having this be my day job is, in some ways, even more of a blessing since it means I have free reign to explore ideas as I see fit. That was one of my goals of library school: to situate myself as an intellectual in spaces that honored intellectual endeavors, without being required to “publish or perish.” And since I’ve arrived, I’d like to make the most of it.
Oh, a wonderful set of plans. Go well. Happy birthday.
Happy happy birthday! Thirty-one is, I find, a very nice sort of thing to be.
Thanks, all, for the well-wishes :)!
Happy BIrthday! The thirties are a good decade, I've found so far.
My mom was only 19 when I was born, so I got to the point you mention years ago, but I totally remember thinking something similar when I realized I was the same age as she had been when she had me. Our lives have been amazingly different–she had 5 children by the time she was your age, and now I'm just expecting one (literally anytime now–you can be its blog auntie if you want!) at my age of 38-next-month.
Different choices, different directions, different people…all of us totally awesome, naturally!
I hope you had a great birthday, Anna, and wish you the best in all your coming adventures.