In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should have…
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
Ayana Byrd began this week’s chapter describing her affinity for staying safe in the middle, never veering too far from the center to make waves.
I didn’t immediately relate. I’ve often considered myself somewhat of a rebel — or at least the black sheep — of my family. After all, I’m the only one who has a facial piercing (my nose, but it counts)! I’m the only one of my generation (until very recently) to get a tattoo — and at that, I have multiple. The horror! I’m the only one who left Florida to pursue a life beyond the Sunshine State.
This is where Ayana and I connect. She detailed her many adventures abroad, feeling limitless as she ventured far beyond the comfort zone of the middle.
It’s always surprised me when someone compliments me on my own big moves. I haven’t given them all that much thought, until now.
New York and San Francisco are largely made up of transplants. Sure, you have your lifers, the people who are quick to remind you they were born and raised there, and will call you out for any embarrassing transplant behavior. But by and large, there are tons of people in both places who’ve moved into these cities for the pursuit of something more. And probably because of that, I haven’t felt like my leaving Florida was all that big a deal. Plenty of people do it. Heck, lots of my colleagues have traveled much further — and risked much more — to come here.
But I shouldn’t lessen its importance, or how much those moves have changed me. Compared to my colleagues and friends, and yes, Ayana Byrd, I’ve done a paltry amount of traveling abroad. But aside from family who served in the Armed Forces, I’ve got the most stamps on my passport.
And without even leaving my zip code, I can see the world in a much more diverse way — challenging the status quo constantly — because I live and breathe in a city that pushes for progress and change.
I’ve had the privilege of learning about more cultures and backgrounds in four years away than I had in the 25 years prior. I’ve experimented with foreign (to me) ingredients, entertainment, customs and traditions. I’ve broadened my perspective on what an impact a life well-traveled can mean. I even spent seven weeks of the last year traveling — albeit, all domestic — because I can always find a reason to say “Yes” to a new experience.
Ayana’s story reminds me there’s so much to say “Yes” to, beyond the 50 states and how it’s OK to be a little scared the first (or every) time you venture somewhere new. Of all my wild and crazy antics, I’ll happily share a full passport and broader understanding of our world for years to come.
Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s death. I was in Ireland (her homeland) when the cancer won. I still struggle with the difficult decision I made to stay abroad and miss her memorial services.
It’s been more than a thousand days since, but it breaks my heart every time I think about that choice.
So, here’s a dedication to my mom’s mom: A woman so fiercely sharp and sassy, she put most to shame.
- A Margarita (on the rocks, no salt): Her signature drink; I’ll never indulge in a margarita without thinking of my Grammy. As any wondrous woman should, she ordered them exactly the same way for years. Cheers!
- Cruising: Married for more than 50 years, my grandparents sure knew how to vacation. Their travels took them many places, and we were blessed to come along at times. Our Bahamas trip the summer I graduated high school was far and away my favorite
- Girls’ Night: My mom and grandma spent a lot of quality time together, and I relished any chance to join them. From bingo nights to “AP conferences” (secret beach getaways), so much of my life is defined by those memories.
- White Elephant Gift Exchange: Our family tradition carries on every Christmas Eve, but it’s not quite the same. I won magnets, which I fastened into hair clips, two years in a row — and I’ve never treasured silly Dollar Store gifts more.
My grandpa used to sing her this. We love you, Peggy.
Last week’s celebrations left me exhausted. With a full heart, no doubt — but I was pooped. Good thing I got home late Monday (after 10 hours of traveling, but more on that later) and had another baby shower invite waiting for me! The joys of being a 20-something …
- Lime Fresh Mexican Grill: We lunched at this new spot in Tampa before I departed for the big city again. Quick, inexpensive and totally delicious — my kinda Mexican fiesta.
- Clear Care: Many hours in airports mean many hours cursing my contacts. Thankfully, this stuff is a Godsend. Just make sure you follow all instructions: Lenses must soak at least six hours and you DO NOT put this stuff directly in your eyes, like a traditional solution.
- Golden Girls Cross-Stitch: My super-talented friend Faren posted a photo of her handmade artwork and naturally, I couldn’t resist. I’m trying to convince her to open an etsy shop but till then, you can just admire the one I bought!
- Baby Laughing at Ripping Paper: It’s only fair I share this hilarious video Sister-in-Law showed me. Belly laughs from a baby? Over ripped paper? Too cute for words.