So in less than two weeks I'm turning the big 3-0.
If you're rolling your eyes & saying "Seriously? 30 is not old," relax. I'm not about to tell you that I'm upset I'm turning 30, because I'm not.
However, when I hit certain 'milestone' ages, it does make me think back to my younger self imagining this age.
For example, I remember when I turned 21 and how different it was from what I pictured 21 to be years before.
Like... I didn't imagine myself sitting at the bar with my dad in New York City. But that's how it turned out.
I was doing an off-campus study at NYU at the time, and I had just gotten to school only a week or two before. I had made a couple of friends in the same program, and the three of us went out to dinner. (It also happened to be Restaurant Week so we got a really nice meal on the cheap).
However, we didn't know each other that well yet - so when they told me they had schoolwork to do & couldn't go out after, I believed them.
And proceeded to call the only other people I knew in NYC - my dad & stepmom.
Meanwhile... my new friends fully intended to 'party' with me despite the fact that it was the middle of the week, and were wondering where I disappeared to. But it wasn't until the next day I found out it was all a joke.
Oh well! Don't get me wrong, I still had fun, just saying it's not how I imagined turning 21 to be.
I can also tell you that around that same time, I thought 30 was old with a capital O.
And L and D.
Now "earmuffs" Dad and Mr. Vittles, but when I was in college I had a taste for the older fellas. I went to a really small school in Florida where I got an excellent education but had a very bizarre social life.
Think 'Land of the Misfit Toys' and I was there with all my working parts.
I wasn't a hippie, I wasn't into Dungeons & Dragons, I wasn't LGBT, I wasn't a Marxist - I was just Maggie from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. And even though I was OK with that, it seemed like no one else was.
Either that, or I was just totally invisible because I had nothing edgy to "define" myself. I would see people from my classes at parties, and half the time they didn't even realize I went to school with them. I can honestly say more people recognized me at my best friend's college an hour away than at my own.
Luckily, early on I found two other girls who felt the same way, and we became fast friends. One of them, Natalie, became my off-campus roommate until we left school. The fact that we all felt a little out of place led us to befriend more people away from school (or as we called them, Townies)... and often the Townies we befriended were much older.
First, I started dating the owner of the ice cream shop where I worked. He was 7 years older.
Then the gaps seemed to get progressively larger, until I finally reached 10 years.
(Or... so I thought I reached 10 years. But nothing ended up happening. Read on.)
Through a friend of my roommate's boyfriend, I met this guy who was 30. One night we were all out in a group, but he & I hit it off, so he asked me out on a date later that week.
I was... tripping.
Not because he was especially good-looking or successful or anything, but because I was shocked that someone at the ripe old age of 30 would be interested in little 20-year old me.
On the days leading up to our date, I fretted about seeming too immature. This guy had already been married & divorced, had a regular job, paid his own bills.... etc etc.
I worked part time scooping ice cream, and watched Maury every afternoon on one of the 5 channels we got without buying cable, in an apartment that my dad and my roommate's mom paid for.
In other words, the only thing we really had in common was breathing oxygen. What in the hell were we going to talk about?
Well let me tell you.
Our fabulous date consisted of me driving myself to a coffee shop, where he had been waiting and already purchased himself a cup of coffee. Once I then purchased my OWN coffee, we walked up to the beach to watch the sunset.
Where he proceeded to tell me he wasn't looking for a serious relationship and just wanted to have fun.
Which was FINE, I mean hello I was 20 - not looking to get married here. What he was too dumb to figure out is I was looking for the exact same thing. But even I had the sense to know you don't make a statement like that within five minutes of a first date. Some things just don't need to be spoken, and only serve to dampen the mood.
Also on that list is telling the other person you just want to hook up with them... and asking what type of panties they are wearing? And then trying to make out before you've talked for more than 5 minutes.
Umm... excuse me. I may have been 20, but I was not born yesterday. Sunset Beach Makeout Party could have been a reality for my new friend if he had just shown a little respect. (Clearly I was not the one who should have been concerned about seeming immature.) So I not-so-politely told him where to go, and stormed off - with him running behind calling me names, then asking if we could 'start over again.'
And on that day, I realized that with age does not necessarily come wisdom. Perhaps 30 was not so old and sophisticated as I thought?
Now, at 30, I pay my own bills. I'm married. I've been at the same full-time job for 5 years. I own a home. I have a child. I have an accountant. I have a living will. I am planning for retirement.
I make molasses cake and blog about it, for God's sake.
For all intents & purposes.... I am old with a capital O, L, and D.
But most times I still feel like that 20 year-old college kid. I wonder if anyone ever has Life figured out? Probably not.
So for now... whether it's old or not... I'm just going to enjoy being 30. I'm going to enjoy being married, and having a job, and being a mom, and owning a home. I'm going to enjoy planning for retirement - when I can look back on this time in my life and say "HA! Remember how I imagined retiring to be? Silly 30 year-old Maggie."
Until then... let's all leave this business of figuring out Life to another day and just enjoy some molasses cake.
P.S. This is delicious but intense - so if you are not completely in love with molasses (like myself), you might consider perusing the recipe annals of V&B for something more suited to your taste!
- 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 t. baking powder
- 3/4 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. ground ginger
- 1/4 t. ground cloves
- pinch salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 C. (1 stick) salted butter, melted
- 1 C. molasses
- 1/2 C. hot water
- 1 t. pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg, melted butter, molasses, hot water, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and whisk (or beat) until smooth, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula if necessary.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 28-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack, slice, & serve warm and/or topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. Serves 9.
Recipe adapted from Just A Pinch