Today I am 28 years old.
This isn’t entirely a surprise – not like when I turned 25 and suddenly was no longer in the much-covetted 18-24 bracket on all those survey forms.
That was quite the shock.
In comparison, 28 is like … meh.
I like the number though – nice round number, full of promise … or something?
And unlike most of my peers – I am looking forward to 30 – people take you seriously at 30 like they didn’t at 20. And probably with reason, too, though I was hardpressed to notice that at 20.
For my Birthday this year, I have The Boy, a cake I am making right now in anticipation of candles and singing later, and The Boy’s favourite food (baked macaroni and cheese) to put in the oven before he gets home. We’ve shared the last ten birthdays together, so suffice it to say, we have our odd little routines.
Usually, those include family and friends eating, talking, wearing dressy clothing and singing their version of Happy Birthday.
This time, it’s just us. And that’s alright, if not entirely usual.
Over the last ten birthdays, we’ve both grown a lot. I say the last ten, but really it’s nine (2005-now) since 2004’s birthday celebration was delayed by a week – more accurately – he ditched me, his brand new girlfriend, to go buy himself a used Honda. Can you imagine? Well, I suppose we were just eighteen. Weirdly, that seems so young now. At the time it seemed so grown up – “I am 18. I can vote! I can drink – in Montreal anyway. And I can be called for Jury duty!” And now, I realize that the last ten years have been more growing up, figuring out how to be an adult, than actually being an adult. And I am okay with that. In fact, I am happy I wasn’t alone in this – I have had wonderful friends, a family with neverending support and advice, and the Love of my Life – who got to grow up alongside me. Seriously – if you look at my prom pictures, June 2004, and then at us now – we look like babies.
It freaks me out a little bit.
Also, I was so much thinner … but I am trying not to dwell on that part.
Anyways, in light of all the growing I have done in the past decade – including all the really cool things I got to accomplish, like going to England, finishing university and law school, going to South Africa and Portugal and moving to the USA and more – and seeing all those “xx things to do before I’m xx” lists all over the blogosphere, I have decided to my own little Birthday Goal List for the next year.
There are a few reasons for this: For one, I like the idea of setting goals – I wrote an entire blog post about it; Secondly, I like the idea that these lists – which often have experiences trumping material things – represent, that is, the idea that we should be valuing our time as much as our accomplishments; and thirdly, I want a way to record my life in a more structured way.
I also like the manner that it’s stylized, these lists. They are positives – I will go to X, I will learn Y – as opposed to something like, New Year Resolutions which tend to be negative – I will Give up Sweets, I will Lose weight, I will stop swearing – or you can substitute Lenten resolutions or whatever else. I like the idea of inserting positive experiences in your life – even if they scare you a little bit. And I like the idea that they can be somewhat banal – like learning how to drive stick, or how to make cheese or to visit a particular museum. I like that there is that fluidity and individualization.
Also, I love lists.
So, without further ado:
My 28 Things to Do Before I am 29 List
- Learn how to use a Photoshop-like program (Gimp?) in a practical manner
- Learn how to not be afraid of making red meats.
- Take a picture of myself at the Las Vegas Strip
- Get Confident in driving Stick (confident enough to drive the vette without hyperventiallting)
- Finish my trilogy of books set in Cherry Valley
- Write a real letter, then send it through the post
- Learn how to knit a sweater. Or at least a multi-colour blanket.
- Learn how to play Tennis. And enjoy it!
- Paint something I can hang on the wall.
- Make strides at learning a new language (Gaelic maybe?)
- Learn how to better use my sewing machine
- Make icecream.
- Learn the HTML/Bogging basics to better my blog
- Send manuscripts out – stop being afraid of rejection.
- Go swimming in the ocean
- Take a class of some sort
- Figure out what all those camera terms mean (Aperture what?)
- Ride a horse.
- Do something crazy with my hair
- Have (my first ever!) spa day!
- Go tobogganing
- Grow an herb garden
- Visit a place I’ve never been to before
- Do that Wedding Thing
- Wander around an art gallery
- Go to Disneyland
- Have a picnic somewhere classic
- Go dancing in the rain
I guess I have certain priorities?
I am taking this list as a serious effort to recommit to my life – to keep learning, keep experiencing, keep travelling and trying new things. But also to stay connected to those I love, make sure they know there’s a part of them that is always with me – even if it’s just a shared joke about riding a horse (because I never have, never thought I would and yet, as a child rode a broom around the house pretending to be Xena), a family recipe for icecream or dragging them out with me to do something new and exciting. That’s important to me. All of it is, really.
And there’s is no hardline. These are things I am striving to do before I turn 29 – but if, at 11:59 pm on April 14th 2015, I have stuff left to cross off, it’s not the end of the world – it just means I will get to it when I am 29.
Happy Birthday to me …
What about you guys? Any list-making traditions for your birthday?