This week hasn’t been so much about my kids and the people they are becoming as it has been about me turning 30. I mean, I love my kids, but now my life is 1/3 over so what does it really matter…
Sorry. That was just me being dramatic. I like to do that sometimes.
We had spent most of last week skiing with friends in Park City, UT. Apparently if they put a “SLOW” sign on a ski run, that automatically makes it a Green designation (easy), even if it’s really a 90-degree-angle of sheer icy death and blind drop offs into the cold version of hell. But what do I know. I was just the idiot in the mock turtleneck.
This was probably my fourth time skiing. Ever. But our friend Gene had never skied before in his life and by day two was skiing Blues (more challenging) and hadn’t fallen once. I, however, fell three times. The first two hours. Then quit. Then drank a cosmopolitan at the ski lodge. I like to pretend, when I drink martinis, that perhaps I’d done something very significant and stressful related to world affairs that day, like negotiated a fragile peace or purchased a cherry-red Berkin bag, but this day my greatest accomplishment was simple and elegant: NOT pinning my head to a tree with the ski pole.
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The Things stayed with grandparents. Gordon and I would receive the occasional text message with pictures of Drew watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” or Madeline beaming in the arms of her Honey after bath time. Her grin was stretched out across her face like a clothesline, her towel draped around her head glamorously, and her eyes focused squarely on the camera as if to say, “You may, if you wish, stay away indefinitely. They have unicorns and rainbows here, as well as mountains of crocheted blanket corners on which to gnaw. Please sign me over to these people or whatever you have to do legally because I never want to leave.”
My actual birthday was anticlimactic. I think when you have a big birthday looming, you expect Jesus to return or something the morning-of, because there’s no way the universe could continue whirring away when you have reached such a fantastical age. Atoms simply can’t bear that reality. It’s like when someone important in your life has died and you observe the teenager working the drive-through window at MacDonald’s — see her handing a kid a milkshake though the car door and the mother a receipt, and you just wonder how that kind of normal human interaction is even possible.
My birthday was like that. It was like walking around with Lady Gaga on my shoulders smoking a hookah and no one really thinking it was bizarre.
Me? 30? Are you kidding?
Today, Drew and I were outside blowing bubbles. He had his first bloody nose today and despite my best spit-swabbing, still had faint streaks across his cheeks and red crust around his right nostril. Gordon later said he looked like a “ragamuffin,” a word I would like to adopt and raise as my own, along with the word “primordial.” They just seem so lonely.
Drew was trying to blow the bubbles.
“Too hard, Drew. Like this,” I said, and then I blew. Bubbles came.
He dipped the wand after me.
Then a gust of wind blew up from down the street and suddenly the wand had come to life, spitting out a steady stream of bubbles; a floating, bobbing procession of pearls. Drew squealed. He thrust the wand back into the bottle and raised his arm up straight, like you would if you really knew the answer in class and were begging the teacher to call on you.
“Do it! Do it!” he yelled into the air. But no wind came. He looked at me frustrated, like Why don’t you SAY something, for God’s sake. But I said, “There’s nothing I can do about the wind. You just have to wait for it.”
Then…WIND! More bubbles!
You can imagine how long this went on.
I don’t know what I expected of turning 30. I think I thought maybe someone would be hiding under a rock, some rock I’d passed a million times but which had been placed there years and years before in anticipation of this very moment, and that person would jump up from under the rock with a camera and a microphone and tell me I had been a star in a reality television show that had given inspiration to millions worldwide. That my struggles and triumphs were not lost or marginalized, that they had actually meant something for good. And that now that I was 30 I would be promoted to a different kind of a life, the life behind the curtain.
“Was nothing real?” I would ask this person.
And this person, who looks vaguely like Ed Harris, would say, “You were real. That's what made you so good to watch.”
Sometimes I feel like a kid with his arm in the air, waiting for the bubbles, and my arm is getting tired, but I still have lots of hope.