Processing 25

A little boy once told my mother, his preschool teacher, that you don’t turn the new number until you blow out the candles. Cue women joking about never blowing out a candle again.

By that logic, I am not 25. There were no candles: not on the day, not that evening, not even at my Olympics-London-Birthday party a few days later. No candles.

I don’t feel 24 any longer. That ship has sailed, my friends. But I don’t feel 25.

Or rather, I feel 25 hanging heavily on me.

I pray I never become a woman ashamed of her years. One who stays 38 or 45 for years and years. I want to be proud of my gray hairs, proud of the suffering and joys that have shaped me into the woman I am now and am becoming.

At the same time, 25 feels different.

I know nothing changed from Tuesday to Wednesday, day before to birthday. But I’m the person who, if she knows the milk is expired, she is convinced it tastes different. The power of suggestion, of knowledge, is strong in me. And I know I’m 25.

A quarter of a century. A hypothetical quarter or more of my life is gone. Maybe a third. Yikes. It feels significant.

I recently got done watching the Olympics nonstop for seventeen days. On it, I saw swimmers and gymnasts and runners who are years younger than me who have more passion, dedication, and talent than I have in my big toe. I felt old.

It’s an odd thing, 25. I’m no longer new at this adulthood thing. I’m settled into my job (though things keep changing), my home (though things keep breaking), and my relationships (though they keep transitioning). I’m attached to my computer, my car, and my Netflix queue.

So what’s next?


Thinking. That’s what’s next.

Thinking and planning. Maybe going, maybe staying. Trying, I hope, and succeeding after a few rounds of failing.

25 is heavy on me. But not in a bad way. I am young, but not a child. I am an adult, but still with much to learn. I can still learn and grow and change, as the world around me learns and grows and changes.

Remember last year when I wrote about a little fella, born three days after my birthday?  Not long ago, I went to his first birthday party.  We celebrated the sticky summer day with sticky popsicles and sticky frosting.  He grinned, used to being the center of attention, with no understanding that this day was different than any other.

And I saw my friends, my married girlfriends of which I have many, eyeing him with joy and expectation, those little babies glowing in their eyes, as they look ahead to motherhood at some point.  And I look at him and I love him, but there are no babies gleaming in my eyes, not yet, perhaps never.

My mother was 25 when I was born.  I was her first living child.  I cannot imagine holding my first child, squirming and squawking, at this age, at my age.  At any age, right now.

So.  My 25 does not have babies in it.  It does not have husbands or boyfriends or lovers in it, not now anyway.  So what does it have?

Teaching.  Reading.  Writing.  Registering.  Class-building.  Laughing.  Eating.  Baking.  Drinking (tea).  Grading.  Learning.  Planning.  Thanking.  Watching.  Earning.  Giving.  Truth-telling.  Collaborating.  Loving.  Mostly Loving.

The heaviness of 25 is like a thick cloak on my shoulders.  One I’m not used to, but one I’m prepared to carry.  One I plan on figuring out how to use and warm myself and others from whatever outside chill will be coming our way.

25.  Okay.  I’m ready to blow out my candles now.


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2 thoughts on “Processing 25

  1. Revel in your freedom… Your “untethered-ness”, as it were. Use every dime you (responsibly) can traveling to different countries, going to movies alone, and mining the depths of what it means to be young. One day you will (probably) be married, maybe even have children, and you will no longer have those opportunities. It will be wonderful, yes, but different, and when your every thought and action must be made in light of the other lives which you are responsible for, you will sometimes find yourself pining for the solitude that now sometimes feel like a burden. These are days to which you will never be able to return once that step has been taken on the road to family life, so immerse yourself in it as much as you can.

    You are intelligent, beautiful, talented & kind… That’s a pretty potent combination. Go for it 🙂

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