The number has been haunting me for the past few years, and it’s finally caught up with me. I haven’t had much of a chance to stop and truly think about it, especially since I haven’t been drunk or up very late at night for some time before or since. Between the constant edge-of-disaster work project of moving two entire labs across town, my parents visiting, and trying to make time for both, my mind has been thoroughly occupied. I never dared let my mind wander, since it inevitably wandered to work, which made me instantly anxious. Even just thinking about my work cell phone made me start to hyperventilate.
I still remember the day, several years ago, I was wandering home down Nixon on a sunny Oregon summer day, when I stopped dead in the middle of the street, paralyzed by a few simple words: I was going to be 30 soon. Even now, I can’t quite decide what it feels like. It’s almost like it’s too big to process, and I’m just assuming it’s happened to someone else. 15-year-olds are half my age. That one really doesn’t hit me much; 15 is a pretty unpleasant and generally stupid age anyway. 40 is only ten years away. That’s a nasty one, but then I remember 30 was ten years away from 20, and 20 was forever ago. But ultimately, there’s nothing I can’t do now that I couldn’t do in my 20s, especially if I shave a couple years off in conversation. I mean, I still get asked if I’m going to the university here.
I think ultimately what 30 means to me came to me driving around Eugene at night last month, playing the Hackers2 album, which I hadn’t played much since I was a fresh-faced 21-year-old staying late at work to play Quake III, going out with George to watch Dylen and Black Patent play or going to Doc’s Pad with everyone else I knew, and discovering a love for rum and coke. This triggered a stream of memories of all the things I’d seen and done over the past ten years. I’d met best friends, I’d dated some great girls, I’d learned to snowboard and rock climb, I’d gone to new and amazing places, and all of them, people and places, helped me develop into the person I am today, for which I am grateful.
For me, 30 isn’t a limitation, if anything it’s a marker of ten more years of new potential. But it also means that those past ten years are just that: past. I mark the start of the next ten years in a new place surrounded by new people and new places. I have left the last decade behind to start the new one in more ways than one. And that, at least, makes me sad. For what seems like the first time, I feel like I’ve left a valuable and substantial portion of my life behind me. If I could live those ten years over again, I would. It was a hell of a time.
But here’s to another great ten years, and bringing as much of the last ten along with me as I can. May they be even half as fruitful.