Dear 29 year old me...
As I recall this birthday had a lot of significance for you. A lot of deadlines you were supposed to meet by this date... job, marriage, future nailed down. You would be settled. You would be a real adult. Not the so-called "adulthood" of these volatile/boring--too much/not enough--alcohol soaked/self loathing induced/fun--heartbreaking/very successful--rollercoaster years called your 20s. Like a real adult. You're not sure what that means, but you know when you get to the big 3-0 it is supposed to kick in. You're supposed to be set. You're supposed to feel like you know what you're doing. You're supposed to... supposed to... supposed to...
Here's a snapshot of what's coming. You moved back home after a decade of grad school, incredible work opportunities, and hundreds of new friends that you will keep up with poorly other than judging how they dress their future children. You're living with your parents right now because that makes the most financial sense--don't worry you'll be buying a house in 8 months. You didn't see that one coming did ya?
That guy you just met and think is the one isn't. He's going to tell you he thinks you should get married within the year. You'll pick a date. You'll check the box for irreconcilable differences before you make it sacramentally official. He keeps calling you after the break up. Don't answer (he's dating someone else... he will eventually marry her). You will have a string of very interesting relationships. You will get some I love yous and some suggestions of future plans to be made. You will know in your gut that it's not the right fit. Sometimes you will ignore this feeling for a month or so longer than you should. You will drink too much. They will also keep calling. You can answer--you've ended things on good terms. You will get drinks with some of them. You will meet their wives. You will enjoy pictures of their children over lunch.
You become an Aunt and a godmother. You tear up every time you realize what an honor it is to pray for these children for the rest of your life.
You quit your job. Well, you quit your job description. You reshuffled your responsibilities, and you could not be happier. You're actually building something. You know how that is your favorite!
You go to Rome. You see Pope Benedict (he's going to resign in 2013). It's okay, you go back to Rome and see the new pope. His name is Francis. It's a long story. On that first trip to Rome you meet your best friend. She'll become your roommate in the house you buy. Yes, you buy a house. You don't wait until you're married, you just do it. You find a great deal on a beautiful little cottage in that neighborhood you loved and looked at back in 2008. It becomes a haven for college girls that love to talk about the bible and drink wine. That sort of becomes your thing... alcohol-themed bible studies. You write a lot of drafts but haven't published anything yet--but hey, you're still young.
You also go to Ireland, with a friend you met in Wyoming. Speaking of Wyoming, you roadtrip through 18 states. You use a lot of #hashtags. You deactivate and reactivate your instagram (I know you said you'd never join, you do... it's awesome.)
You fall in and out of love. You meet new people. Loved ones die. Friends die. Through suffering you learn what life is really about, and you look back on your 20s with a smile but with no wish to return. You find freedom in not caring what others think in a way you only can on this side of 30. I mean you care what they think or you'd probably never shave your legs again... but you don't let other people's opinion of you dictate your decisions any more. You are more the woman God is calling you to be because you have let this go.
You get envious of others still... you are sometimes worried that you missed out on something... you sometimes wonder if you made the right turn at this crossroads or that. You did. Your life is full of love. You pray every day. You didn't think you could do that, did you? You can and you do. Sometimes life gets crazy, but you've learned how essential prayer is to your life.
You eat vegetables. And this stuff called quinoa. It is not pronounced how you'd think. You still haven't lost that next 15lbs. But you still look good. You love cooking, inviting people to your beautiful home, entertaining. You are a little too attached to your Christmas tree.
You see Janet Jackson in concert (this would be more interesting to 9 year old you, I realize, but it is still a fun fact.)
Your parents are your best friends and favorite travel companions. They always were but you started admitting it to yourself on this side of 30.
You love Jesus. You love Mary. You love the Catholic Church and you devote your life to it (but you've known that since 1997).
You start a blog. It's just for fun on the side. It's a place where you get to say all of the stuff you're thinking all of the time. You also show people you can be pious with a pinot in hand. Your friends contribute. It blows your mind each week to see how creative they are and how much wisdom they have to share.
You love your life. And when your birthday rolls around in 2017 and people ask if you're "turning 29 again" and you say Nope. Because you wouldn't go back to your 20s. As much fun as they were it is nothing compared to the deep rich joy on this side of 3-0.
Happy Birthday, Katie!