“Excuse me, can you take a reservation for fifteen people next Saturday, May 7th?”
“I believe we can accommodate that…Is this a special occasion?”
I thought this was a funny question—especially coming from a DC restaurant, where servers typically do not give two flying F’s about you.
Well, they asked, didn’t they? “Actually, it’s my birthday!”
On Friday I turn 27. Over the past week, all I’ve been able to think is, what the hell happened when I was 26?
That list, is pretty short.
This was not a landmark year.
People talk about landmark years: The year they got married. They year they bought their first home. The year they finally grew up and got their shit together.
Year 25 was easily the hardest year of my life. I’m an open book with many things, but I have kept that year private. Only my brother and a select group of friends know how each card was played.
Without realizing it, I had one goal in mind for 26: Lay low. I cancelled trips. I *cough* attempted to stay out of everyone’s way at work. I went on exactly zero dates. I’m fairy confident I can count the number of parking tickets I received on one hand (which is fucking incredible, I tell you). I never got towed.
I can’t remember the last time I went an entire year without getting towed.
It is a running joke (between me and basically everyone that knows me), that I am a recipe for disaster. Yet, I can only recall one major crisis in the past year. [I got bed bugs the night I moved to DC and did eighty loads of laundry the night before I started my new job, in case you were curious.]
Here is what I did, and did not do while I was 26:
I did not move to a new city.
I moved cities, period. Not new.
I moved eleven times in eight years (twelve, if you count the time I slept on my friends’ couch for a month after college). Therefore, moving to a city I’ve already lived in was not that great a step for me.
I started a new job. I returned to an office environment, after 2.5 years of working from home. For once, I did not arrive in a new city having to make friends from nothing. I already had an amazing group of people waiting for me.
I did not travel to new places.
When I moved back to DC, the first thing I did was cancel a trip I already paid for. I flew home to my parents’ house in Iowa one time in an entire year—a new record. I flew to the Midwest two other times, to watch my last two college roommates get married. I flew to Orlando and saw my best friend on my college track team, Clarissa, for the first time in three years.
I met my friends’ families.
Over Christmas, my parents shocked the hell out of me by visiting me for Christmas. My family met every single one of my best friends in DC. When you’re single, living with roommates, residing in a fast-paced city; your friends are your family. It was like watching my two worlds collide.
The favor was returned. I met my friend Keena’s parents. I met Tim’s parents, sister, and nephew. I get genuinely excited every time I see Paula’s mom and dad.
I really, really tried to stay calm.
I am five months in on a sixth-month prescription for Accutane, a terrible, albeit effective drug used to treat cystic acne. I have never had crystal clear skin, but I would take the skin on sixteen-year-old-me over twenty-six-year-old-me, any day. I truly believe the stress I dealt with the year prior, caused the outbreak in the year past.
I told myself it was okay to take a day off the gym. I rarely, if ever, went to happy hour. I ate more dessert than I’d care to admit. I watched pointless TV. I really, really tried to chill out.
What I want for year 27:
When I used to ran track, the 800 was my event. During every race (at least those where I ran well) I would mentally “check” myself at 200 meters. I would ask myself, “How are you feeling? Are you ok? Can you handle this pace?” Then I’d settle in.
This week, I’ve asked myself those questions. “I feel okay. I can handle this pace. I feel ready for the next turn.”
I have dedicated a year of my life to being ok with where I am. It’s a little disappointing to go through twelve months without those major milestones, but I think I truly needed that time to, I don’t know—be mellow. It was just enough time for me to get a grip. It was enough time to find my baseline.
Only recently have I begun to feel restless. And that right there, has made me realize I’m ready to move forward with year 27.