It’s magic hour here in my living room. It’s just before sunset, and the light is perfect. Terrence Malick shot almost all of Days of Heaven during magic hour, which is really about half an hour, and it’s one of the most beautiful films ever captured on celluloid. The entire day was spent setting up and then for 25 minutes, they shot. It took months. And it was worth it.
Today I turn thirty.
My daughter is hugging me from behind, arms around my neck, chin on my shoulder. My wife, lovely in her first short dress of the spring, is laughing at something on her laptop. My best friend, Melinda, is sitting on the couch in a scarf and hoodie, because she prefers rocking those to dresses. Her sister Bernadette, my new friend I’m really going to like becoming old friends with, is asleep on the couch beside her.
I’ve spent a couple years wondering how my heart would be with turning thirty. My birthday is important to me. It’s a day of self-reflection, and a healthy bit of self-celebration. I like me. But the thought of leaving my twenties behind and what they represented was admittedly hard, and not really for any terribly poetic reasons. The reasons were the same as they would be for anyone. I don’t want to lose another piece of my youth, to see a little more of my future become my past, to see a few more possibilities lost to maturity.
But the last year of my twenties has really been quite a year.
We’ve left a church. We’re seen friendships fade. We’ve faced a few dark places within ourselves. We’ve made new friends. We’ve seen one of those grow to a much deeper place, and embraced the crazy path of letting that friendship become the seed for a greater space of community in our lives here. We’ve celebrated our first ten years of marriage, and looked ahead to the next.
I’m very okay with turning thirty at exactly the age I am right now. I’m not in my twenties anymore. Just a little bit more of my future is behind me, a few more steps along the path have been walked, and there are fewer now ahead. It’s okay to grieve the younger versions of ourselves we won’t meet again. We keep them with us if we let ourselves really see them for who they were. Rilke said Every true happiness is the child of a parting it did not think it could survive. I’ll miss my twenties, miss what they represented.
But sitting here right now, people I love and the light so right and the year I’ve had and the one I look ahead to, I’m ready.
Thirty is with me, and I’m embracing it.