an open letter to twenty-eight


Dearest Twenty-Eight,

In the deep, dark quite of my living room, I hear the clock in the kitchen. It counts down the remaining fifty-eight minutes of being twenty-seven.

I'm hardly ready for you; my phone has 20% life, clothes are unnecessarily scattered everywhere. Dishes are piled in the sink, DVDs of Seinfeld, Girl Interrupted and The L Word, are just...on the floor. Things are not where they're supposed to be, twenty-eight. I'm not married, I don't have children. I'm a writer and I'm not even wearing the right outfit to type this letter; it doesn't scream Carrie Bradshaw at all!

The thing is, Twenty-Eight, I was conceived mid afternoon, on the bedroom floor, after a huge marriage-threatening fight. (I do love drama). And forty-two blissful weeks later, on a Tuesday in 1987, my 7-pound ass was hauled via emergency C-Section into a culture driven by numbers, data, facts, conclusions, deadlines and fear. In many ways, Twenty-Eight, you're a ticking time bomb; not yet thirty, but dangerously close. Most 28's in my culture are expected to have it figured out. We are to be financially stable and independent, settled in our sexuality and secure in who we are. We ought to know our purpose and our passions and the difference between the two, because there is a difference.

Since the human body has its own rhythm--which we audaciously deny on the daily--so much information can be gathered every 365 days in a human's life. On a physiological level, predictions can be made about the condition of the body as we age; metabolism, bone health, reproductive ability, etc. If I die tomorrow, a skilled professional would be able to tell I am around twenty-eight, more or less by the stern end of my fourth rib, the length of my bones and my teeth. That's a beautiful and often helpful thing, but it would be hard to determine how I felt as a human being. Was I happy? Did I feel complete and secure in my purpose? Did I show and receive enough love? Did I pay my own rent? I mean, I was twenty-eight, after all. Interesting how age can only predict, depict and determine so much and yet we allow it to define who we are, by setting so many deadlines. This isn't a bad thing, it's just what is, for today.

Twenty-Eight, getting older hasn't been the hard part for me, growing up is. As a grownup, I've had to make very hard decisions and judgements. I've told the truth when I really didn't want to, and I've lied when it was my only option. I have to constantly be humble and realize things about myself that aren't favorable, but helpful to know. I've walked through shame, grief, fear, heartbreak and hopelessness. It's not all bad though, Twenty-Eight. Concurrently, I've really surprised myself, as a grownup. I've shown myself grace and a willingness to be here in a way I didn't and couldn't as a child. I have friends who seek me out and think of me all the time. I have a loving, smart and very strong family. My Mother has become my favorite person, thank God. I've cried so many tears of joy and I have much to celebrate, each and every day.

Twenty-Eight, I just really want you to know you are NOT a deadline. You are just a point of reference, like a mall directory, and I'm glad you're here. Of all the numbers so far, you feel the most fun, strong, powerful and enlightening already. You don't scare me...but let's be honest, you haven't demanded anything of me today, other than to receive and really taste all the love available to me. I know things only taste as good as the time I take to absorb them, so I promise to stay present for the next 16 hours. Yikes.

So maybe I am ready for you, sweet Twenty-Eight. For you are proof that I've kept air in my lungs, food in my belly and more than enough love in my heart to sustain me thus far. My dishes might be piled high, I might be single and I don't make 60K a year. My clothes may not make it back neatly where they belong anytime soon and the scattered DVD's won't get re-racked today. But that will come with age...right?