By Anna Jeavons
I was born to be somebody; we all are. And mostly I like that I’ve been different, a bit messier.
I definitely didn’t waste my youth. I haven’t made monetary gains but it’s been rich with unique and daring experiences that’ll inform what I do in my 30s, 40s, 50s… and 60s if I get there.
Maybe I’ll have a child at 37 years old. Maybe I’ll have my own Sophie Lou, my own Sunny (a friendly dog), and a temperamental cat with some outrageous name. And maybe when I’m 55 I’ll know a 29-year-old in the muckings of her early career and I’ll kowtow to her because I’m always going to be anxious, and sensitive, and easily intimidated by people whose clothes seem to actually fit.
I hope for both our sakes I’ll be able to control my ego and support my past self in learning how one makes the world a better place. Even though she is naive and arrogant and moody. I won’t take it personally. I’ll remember. I’ll know that she is petrified of failure, that her expectations are sky high, that it doesn’t feel like her clothes actually fit, and that she’s definitely not going to prioritise reading my blog—she’s barely got time to eat right now! She hasn’t yet realised that seven days and seven nights is just right, and God made it that way for a reason. Some things can wait ‘til next week.
She doesn’t believe in God. “I wish I did—imagine life having meaning?” she says without emotion, as if she doesn’t weep about it in unexpected expanses of free time. She isn’t yet ready for dogs and swags and stars alone on beaches. She hasn’t suffered enough to need those balms as dearly as I do.
But she is suffering. She’s beginning to recognise that enfolding cold. Soon it will be her friend. Soon it will be family. And boy does that frighten her hurricane brain.
Why do we suffer? Why should we? Why shouldn’t we throw in the towel, beyond compassion for our kin? She wants answers. She’s got five books on it piled up beside her bed. The East says “practice mindfulness”, the West says “get your shit together and contribute” but she’s either too manic for meditation or too exhausted to play the game. She wishes life could just be easy, awe-some, full of wonder, and all these things at once, for always; an undying love affair. She wants long periods of health and a profound soundtrack; someone with warm skin who feels like home, who stays even when she lets all the hurt out in one go and it’s pathetic and ugly and frightening.
I don’t know what to tell her. “Grow up” isn’t helpful. I certainly can’t explain why I use the word God now. I know intimately the ways in which she finds faith offensive.
I think back to that warmth she yearns for—to my third (fifth, ninth?) great love and the way I finally felt I was an equal. They were sunshine, through the gaps between carriages on a train of problems to solve, but they weren’t the solution.
I think of the homes I’ve made over the years. Out of pinecones and acorns and 90s nostalgia. Out of habits and routines, creekside walks, picnics in cemeteries, and hundreds of different quotes stuck to walls. The house I bought, that self-contained, low-maintenance little sanctuary with a bath where I’d read books in winter, escaping in Summer for trips to Tassie. I planted a pomegranate tree as soon as I moved in. I think that tree was the catalyst for really learning how to care for something beyond myself. I loved opening its fruit to ruby jewels made plump and sweet through my devoted tending.
I think of when I started painting again, finally for the process more than the validation. I think of how I learnt to host dinner parties. How I let colour back into my life. How I can sit through foreign films, and not just at the cinema, and not just horror. How I developed opinions. Not a vast collection, just a few quiet views I’m content to stand behind.
I’m not afraid of turning 30. 30 is good. I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends and great communities around me.
I’m afraid of everything else. I’m afraid of my mind. I’m afraid of mistakes. I’m afraid of inconveniences, intolerance, documentation, and the death of loved ones. I’m afraid of feeling guilty. I’m afraid of feeling jealous. I’m afraid of feeling resentful. All these are assured.
Wish me patience for my birthday. Or simplicity. Or a better pair of earplugs. I’ll take what I can in 2020 knowing that life will get harder just as much as it will get easier. And the hard parts will feel longer than the easy parts. And at the end of the day I will be alone through them. I’m not entitled to a loving embrace; I’m not entitled to anything. I don’t believe in a light at the end of the tunnel. There isn’t a tunnel. There’s just a big glass sphere filled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and some maniac has gotten hold of it. Yes I am depressed, but that’s not a counter argument to pessimism, depression’s just one more inevitability.
If I die before my birthday, I want to be crystallised in amber. I want my friends to make art from their grief. Because art helps, at the end of the day—like crisp air helps, like the sound of rain helps. Creativity that comes up from the belly of the world and out through the cracks in our uncomfortable little bodies, itching to touch someone, and maybe even transform them. That’s what I want. That’s the somebody I want to be.
This isn’t a suicide note, by the way, it’s an ode to what comes next.
(I don’t actually know what that is but if I do die, it’ll be from worrying about it).
“Turning 30” was submitted to mindshare as part of The Turnings Project in 2020. To learn more about the Turnings project click here.