My, how life bumps and grinds, jerks to the left, and then surges forward. Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017, I passed the threshold of my 30th birthday, and the new decade feels unexpectedly fresh.
I wasn’t dreading it exactly, more like wondering what I would have to show for myself. Don’t misunderstand—in many ways I am lagging far behind some peers, who have amassed wealth, checked adult boxes like owning a home, getting married, having a lot of financial freedom and the ability to travel. I am looking forward to D-I-N-K status.
On the other hand, I have collected a lot of wisdom over thirty years, and I like to think I have taken more time to be introspective, thoughtful, and conscious of my soul as much as I have the material things.
I also know (now): we each have individual journeys, and it is unjust to compare any two as apples to apples. Because, our paths are as unique as our DNA. Once I learned that, I could stop being so self-conscious, take a deep breath, and dive into the things I could change within arm’s reach—and not worry about the rest.
What struck me yesterday was how much gratitude I have. At times I feel trapped, drowned, and hopeless, especially as a freelance consultant / underemployed MBA graduate with aspirations of grandeur. But yesterday was about the greatness that surrounds me now. I broke down the list I made into a few categories…
People[Last weekend I had lunch with my godmother Rainy. She is 83 (almost 84), and lively as ever, more like a person in her 60s. We share a lot of commonalities, like an enjoyment of the color gray, expensive sunglasses, and good Vietnamese. She excitedly showed me her newly-landscaped backyard, which hasn’t changed since I was a kid. She is just such a force of vitality and positivity. She still sees clients too, as a certified counselor.]
I started my birthday with my therapist Dr. Shana Stowitzky, who I kept in touch with in Italy and began seeing again shortly after returning. She is my external hard drive—absorbs all my streams of thought, worries, neuroses, and throws them back at me in more actionable bundles. I really love her.
Then I had lunch with my friend Paul Trusik. My dear b-day twin, he was born February 22, 1979, eight years before me. But we get along so well, have such similar humor, and yet are fully different people too. It is a special friendship, and I was tickled when he presented me with a package of “gold powder bio-collagen” facial masks, from China. Only he would (1) give someone such a gift, and (2) find it as bizarre and novel as I do. I love trying that shit!
Next I stopped by my friend Tona’s store and purchased some cards. She has the best cards in Tampa, I promise. And she’s an amazing spirit to be around, which is why I enjoy so much talking with her, working for and with her, and having lunches and dinners. Go see her if you haven’t yet!
To round out my day of leisure, I arranged a haircut at The Cambridge Club in Hyde Park Village, and spent some time talking with co-owner Sasha Fruitticher before my barber was ready. She is, like most of my friends and acquaintances, bigger and more special than the average in Tampa. Her store London Philips is a successful men’s (casual) haberdashery, with brands like Vince., Billy Reid, Miansai, and Jack Spade.
And then, of course, there was a requisite celebratory dinner with my family, who are arguably my oldest and closest friends. Today, that is my dad Michael, my brother Chris, and Susan Edwards, my dad’s girlfriend (companion?). It used to include my mom, of course, but she is gone. I feel very sad about that sometimes, and other times, inspired by the reminder that her spirit, genetics, and desirabilities were passed to me.[Losing her was perhaps the hardest thing I have lived through, but also one of the most poignant, clarifying times too. I feel like I know myself better, appreciate the importance of relationships and love, and know that love is a better default strategy than hate or fear.]
We had a fantastic meal at Mise en Place, one of Tampa’s oldest and best restaurants. It is actually 30 years old this year, too. I wore an all-Italian outfit: Prada platform brogues, second-hand Prada pants, and second-hand Gucci gray cotton button-down, and my Bottega Veneta silver ring. We had an old vine zin, oxtail poutine, beet salad, gazpacho soup, za’tan salmon, hangar steak, and olive oil polenta cake with salted vanilla ice-cream. It was all excellent.
I also received a phone call from my aunt and uncle in North Carolina, who are the strangest, most generous and fun old hippies you’ll ever meet.
AND LASTLY, I stopped at Pourhouse for a glass of wine with my best gal pals: Stephen, Paul, and Zach. And Bougie the bichon frisé. The perfect cap to a perfect day (though I don’t truly believe in the concept of perfection).
Things / Products
A friend who works for Sephora in New York recommended REN’s Evercalm line to me to treat redness, irritation, and inflammation on my face. So far I am loving it, and I’m starting to look less like I have a permanent pink face sunburn.
I am still relishing the black nappa leather Prada bowler bag I bought from Vestiaire Collective a month or so ago. Like, really. I don’t sleep with it, but almost.
I told my brother I had been lusting over this lamp from Arpel for months, and so my brother bought it for me (as a graduation and birthday gift)! It is sculptural, delicate, different. Unlike anything I have ever seen.
To my delight after some initial worry, the bonsai that I received as a graduation gift from Donna and Mike Chen had acclimated, after dropping a ton of leaves, and is sprouting new greenery as I write this, in the window facing south of my dad’s townhouse, which gets ample daytime sunlight. I’m pleased.
Speaking of miniature greenery, I have been watching Bjorn Bjorholm Bonsai, a fascinating YouTube channel about an American bonsai artist living in Japan. He instructs classes, travels, and tends to bonsai. How very zen. It doesn’t hurt that he is also adorable.
My 30th birthday was a moment in time when I felt exactly where I was supposed to be, surrounded by the people I love and love me back. I’m making better decisions, feel healthier and more centered, and tackling challenges while resting on the laurels of my past a bit too. A truly happy birthday.