Hi, sweet baby boy.
I’m sure you’ve probably read some of the letters I’ve written to your brother about his behavior. He gets into a lot of trouble, right? I mean, you know that just from living with him. He shouts, he gets his nose into spots it shouldn’t be, he’s generally ornery and often a little bit awkward. But he’s worth the trouble…isn’t he?
But you, little one…aside from a few anger issues, you’re quite nearly an angel. Sure, you get a little upset sometimes, usually when you’re scared, but for the most part you just follow me around the house, silently watching me move laundry from the washer to the dryer, or chop onions in the kitchen, or type on my computer. You’re much more content just to be near me and stare with your soulful black eyes. This is in contrast to your brother Bentley, who could often care less what I’m doing unless it involves food, and Coop, who tries to get near me but often ends up knocking over a chair and startling himself in the process. Even as I write this the two of them are outside howling at some unseen enemy, and you’re curled up in a tiny ball of gray at my feet.
You’re a great companion. And a great listener. I can tell you’re into whatever I’m saying because you look right at me and cock your head to the side, probably so you can hear better through the little afro you’ve recently been sporting. I appreciate your attentiveness, especially lately when I’ve had so much on my mind.
Do you know I’m about to turn 30? In human years, that is. That must seem crazy since most dogs you know will only live to 15 or so…I mean, you and Bentley and Cooper will only pass after your Papa and I move on, of course. You’d never make us go on without you.
Anyway, I’m turning 30 in a few short weeks, and it feels strange, but not for the reasons I thought it would. It feels strange because I’ve realized I actually don’t care. Or maybe that’s not right…I care, but I’m not feeling the angst about 30 the way I did when I turned 25, 26, 27, 28, or 29. This is especially funny because half of my anguish over turning 25 was that I was only a few years away from 30, which was technically middle-aged, which would mean I was closer to being 60 than I was to being a newborn, which of course meant the end of my life was right around the corner.
I know, I’m a little dramatic. Don’t look at me like that.
Besides, the point is that now that 30 is actually here, I’m not that worried about it. I hesitate to even say this out loud, but…I think I’m looking forward to it.
When I do a quick assessment of my life, I’m not where 20-year-old, or even 25-year-old Paula thought I’d be. If you’d cornered me in college, I would have told you the plan was to go to grad school, work in higher education for awhile, and eventually make my way to a dean of students position, and possibly someday serve as a university president. By 25 I would have shaken the presidency notion, and would have laughed at the 20-year-old who imagined staying close to home. I would have told you by 30 I’d have moved up in the ranks and would hope to hold steady at a director level job, where I’d still be able to interact with students, and wouldn’t have to worry with too much administrative work.
I would NOT have told you I would be an administrative assistant and living in the wilds of North Bend, Washington. Because that, dear Finn, would mean that my career path had hit a “road closed” sign with no chance for a detour, and to the insecure, questioning 20-something that I was, that would have felt like disaster. The younger version of me swore that she’d never do something for a living that didn’t give her some degree of self-worth and contribute to the greater good.
But here I am, sitting in an office everyday, working a job which, while not at all terrible or hard, is also not at all fulfilling. I suppose I contribute to my boss’s greater good because I help manage his schedule and budget and department. But do I have a daily and direct impact on the lives of students? No. Do I hold the hand of someone struggling with depression? No. Do I stay up late talking to young women who are trying to figure out to balance their future careers and relationships? No, and in fact last night we went to bed at 10pm.
And you know what, sweet boy? It felt wonderful.
It felt wonderful because my life now has a degree of normal to it, and in that normalcy I’ve found some time for me. I now have hobbies, and dogs, and when I leave my office each day I leave my office, and don’t merely transport it down the hall with me. The last year and a half have allowed my soul to settle, which has allowed me to get to know myself, and…I’m not so bad.
So even though I’m not where I thought I’d be as I neared 30-years-old, I’m very happy. I’m even looking forward to my birthday, because I think it will signify the official, numerical end of one chapter of my life as a new one begins.
As for ideas about what my 30s will bring? I’m a blank slate. I have no big plans, only a few nice dreams, and it feels like there is more room to take whatever comes, be it kids or new careers or more dogs.
Okay, okay, I’m sorry. No more dogs.