April 28, 2014

marking time.

Birthdays can be a funny thing. A very funny, fascinating thing.

A birthday is such a strange marker of time, isn't it? Such a meaningful but also sort of meaningless start to another chapter. In the younger years, each birthday seems to carry a very particular weight. Each age comes with a string of expectations, and you feel like you know where you're heading, the stepping stones set out in front of you. Somewhere after twenty-two, though, the expectations aren't so clear, and age really is just a number — yours to navigate however you'd like. 

Twenty-six, for me, was a year of getting settled, of settling into our new home and steadying our lives. There was so much change between twenty-two and twenty-five, three wildly busy, unexpected years. Sometimes it feels as if I blinked and everything shifted. Four jobs, three cities, two apartments, one house, and a marriage, too. In a blink, a new life. So it tends to go with your twenties, right?

With birthdays, sometimes I try on the new number and welcome the new year but it all feels a bit like I'm pretending — like that new, unfamiliar number is a sweater I'm trying on and it doesn't quite fit, but I decide to buy it anyway. This year, though, it's different. I actually feel twenty-seven, and there's something sort of surprising and strange about sinking into what's next without hesitation. 

Twenty-seven. It lies somewhere in the middle, I suppose, and there's something so forgiving about its inbetween-ness. At twenty-seven, you're no longer a child, but you still carry all the hope and curiosity that comes with being young. You're an adult, yes, but only just so. You're both this and that, neither this nor that, and despite all your responsibilities, you're still granted the occasional bad decision. Twenty-seven. It even sounds important, the first of the four-syllable numbers — a random thought I keep returning to because, let's face it, I'm more or less nuts about finding patterns in letter and numbers. 

Twenty-seven. Four syllables, mine to navigate however I'd like.