Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thoughts at Thirty

Today is my thirtieth birthday.

Ten years ago I turned twenty. On my twentieth birthday, no one was thirty. Thirty seemed like the destination at the very end of a particularly long road trip. A destination so far away that I couldn't possibly imagine ever reaching it, or what it would feel like when I finally did.

I was a sophomore in college when I turned twenty, living on the fourth floor of a big dorm that was filled with friends I had made during my freshman year. The year I turned twenty was the year I started to feel like I had finally found my place. I had friends I loved, friends who understood me. Friends to stay up late with, and talk to, and have dance parties to crazy songs with. Friends to study with and eat junk food with, and explore our little world with. I had classes that fascinated me, and professors who challenged me. I had enough college behind me that it felt comfortable and right, and enough college left in front of me that I wasn't yet thinking about what came after.

The year I turned twenty was the year that I had my first real boyfriend. And I like to think that, until we broke up the year I turned turned twenty-two, I learned all the things that you are supposed to learn from your first boyfriend. I learned what real love is supposed to look like (because this was most certainly not it). I learned how to be independent and retain my sense of self in a relationship (mostly because I didn't). And I learned to recognize when a relationship had run its course and when it is time to say goodbye (because I let it drag on far too long).

The year I turned twenty-two was the year I started preparing for what would come next. I spend a summer in Washington D.C. as a constitutional law intern for the Anti-Defamation League, I bought big scary books with LSAT written on the cover and started studying for my future, and I raced to the mail room every day after my 2:00 class to check for the letter that would tell me where that future would be. And with shaking hands one cold late winter day, I opened the one that did. And during a nostalgic, tear-soaked weekend, I graduated from college, and holding the hands of my very best friends, I moved to New York City to start law school. And I learned for the first time that it is possible to be, at the same time, incredibly excited for what lies ahead and impossibly sad for what will be left behind.

When I was twenty-three, I six months in to what would end up being a nearly eight year tenure in Manhattan. And during that first year I learned that I could live anywhere in the world as long as I had my friends with me. I learned how to answer questions about reading I hadn't done. I learned how to walk twenty city blocks in heels. I learned that I could, in fact, study for twelve hours straight without dropping dead, and I learned how to be ok with bad grades when they came. I found a Steelers bar in lower Manhattan and was there watching when the Steelers hoisted their first Lombardi Trophy in twenty-six years. I discovered that I could watch a ton of TV, read lots of romance novels, and still be a good law student, and I discovered that I really like to cook. And I watched Sister K walk down the aisle to marry her incomparable man, and in the two of them learned the real meaning of partnership.

I was a second year law student when I turned twenty-four. That year I got my first A+, decided that Trusts & Estates law was the practice for me, had my very first real law firm job, and went on my first date with the boy I would marry. The year I was twenty-four I learned how to "do" law school. I learned that love - real love - can come when you least expect it, and that it is possible to "just know" in the snap of a finger.

From age twenty-five to age twenty-seven I got an internship that would lead, almost five years later, to the job I have now. I graduated from law school with honors, passed the bar exam, watched as the financial world melted down, and saw the Steelers win another Superbowl. I learned how to be unemployed for awhile, and then how to work in a job that I hated. I learned what it feels like to be laid off, how to have a job for awhile that had nothing to do with my chosen career, how to interview for a position that I really, really wanted, and what it felt like to finally get it. I started to learn that I really enjoyed my own company, and I learned to be comfortable and confident in the decisions I was making.

Late one night, two months after my twenty-seventh birthday the boy I would marry proposed to me on a website, and we started a whirlwind seven months of parties, planning and anticipation. And on a gorgeous fall day of that very same year I stood at the top of my own aisle, and, surrounded by family and friends, walked into my future. That year I learned that it is not flowers, caterers, and dresses that make a wedding unforgettable, but rather the people who gather to celebrate. I learned how to live - and live well - in a tiny New York City apartment. On a whim I signed up for a half-marathon and when I started training I learned that Central Park is my favorite place in the world.

A few weeks after my twenty-eighth birthday my cousins, my sisters and I held each other close as we said goodbye to our grandma - my mom's mom - the woman who gave us life, and love, and laughter and sparkly memories. I ran double digits for the first time, and I suffered a stress fracture that would keep me out of the race for which I had trained so hard. I cried happy tears and danced at Sister L's wedding, I started a brand new job, I watched the Steelers lose a Superbowl, and I celebrated when Sister K gave us all a new baby girl to love. In my twenty-eighth year I learned that I could get through anything as long as I had my family close. I learned that I could survive on nothing but ginger ale and crackers for two weeks after an epic battle with salmonella, and I learned to say yes when an important career move came my way, even if the job was something I thought I would never, ever do.

I started this blog a few weeks after my twenty-ninth birthday, and quickly knew that I had found my place. I started training for - and crossed the finish line of - my first half marathon, and promptly signed up for two more. We bought our first house and started making plans to leave NYC. We made it through Hurricane Sandy, moved into our new home - that was still a construction zone - and started to get to know our new neighborhood. This past year I learned that leaving Manhattan was far more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. I learned that moving is impossibly hard even when the move is good and right. I learned that writing fulfills me in a way that little else can, and that there is a big and completely incredible community of bloggers out there that has helped me, and taught me, and befriended me in the vast cyber universe. I learned that I could live for almost two months without a kitchen, and I learned once again that I can live in complete chaos as long as my romance novels are organized on their shelves.

And today. Today I am thirty. And when I woke up this morning I thought I would feel different - older somehow - but I don't. I feel the same as I felt yesterday, and hopefully the same as I will feel tomorrow. And I am incredibly happy to be where I am, in this place, living this good life with the people closest to me. And now I hit the road for another destination far in the distance that I can't possibly imagine ever reaching, or what it will feel like when I do. But if the next ten years are anything like the last, I know that there really is nothing to worry about at all.


  1. Happy birthday! I wish you every happiness!

    And I loved this post. Thirty seemed so far away at 20, and so does 40 (the birthday I hit this summer). But in my brain I'm still 22, right?

    I feel so privileged to get to come along on your journey through your blog -- I am so glad to have made a connection with you. I hope to continue to read it for a good, long time. Maybe until we're looking back and thinking, "Remember when 60 seemed old?"

    1. Thank you so much! Today when I was on the phone with my 85 year old grandma she said "honey I don't know how you can possibly be 30 when I'm only 37." Age is most certainly only a number.

      I am so glad to have found you in this vast bloggy universe as well, and look forward to reading more from you for years to come.

  2. Happy Happy Birthday Samantha! I will turn 50 in a year. Turning 40 didn't feel different than turning 30. So, on it goes! Glad we "met" through yeah write. Looking forward to 2013 - maybe we'll actually meet in person :)

  3. Sam I miss you and I so enjoy reading Bout your life. Happy 30th and Any more from your 51 year old friend, Stacie

  4. FIst pump. My favorite post of yours ever. Happy Birthday....I can't believe I am almost a decade older than you are. Love this line: I learned how to answer questions about reading I hadn't done..

    Damn, I love the lawyer-bloggers!!!!

    1. Thanks so much, it is one of my favorites too :) I could never figure out how we were supposed to do all that reading in law school, and I swear that anyone who said they had done it all was lying through their teeth.

  5. Happy birthday! The 20s are such a tumultuous and exciting time. Kind of like coming into one's own, but I've have found that the 30s are really where you find happiness. Or at least that's how it worked for me. I actually wrote a post awhile back about the Magic Number 33 (research says that the age when people are happiest). Here's to a day, year, and decade filled will many new discoveries.

  6. Happy birthday, Samantha! I hope -- I know -- you'll continue to learn more about life and about yourself in the next decade. Happy happy!