Today I turn 29. Another year none the wiser.
And despite well-meaning words from my mother and a Twitter community of superb women who don’t give a toss about ‘The Big 3-0’, there exists on my radar an unrelenting stream of popular culture that really does like to make a big fucking deal about it: ‘listicles’ divisively, hilariously, separating those in their 20s from those in their 30s; landslides of journalism banging on about declining fertility and average home-buying ages; a quiet consensus that 30 signifies the getting together of one’s shit. So despite my relative unconcern about being older, per se, I am dazzled by the unavoidable 30 up ahead, flashing vulgarly like a fairground ride.
And in a way I just wish I was there already, because once I am, there’s no going back. Sure, as an act of defiance I could get a load of botox done, or take off to India for three months, or drink myself into oblivion in a student bar, but even my extensive drinking skills are no match for the march of time. It will be as it will be.
Here, though, at 29, there’s very much the sense of a great, ominous foreboding, inescapable for the reasons detailed above. Some sense that I still have a tiny window of opportunity to ‘do something’. Not because being 30+ heralds the end of life – far from it – but because our society has put so much emphasis on this landmark age. Before and after.
Of course, the problem here is that I don’t actually know what that something is. How many 29-year-olds do? This question itself is part of the problem.
Being 29 is like the moment before you step on a plane, or strap yourself into a rollercoaster. It’s the second before you apply the wax, or before you must relinquish the flash cards and go into an exam. It’s the breath before you say ‘I love you’ or ‘It’s over’. Because once you’ve committed to these things – said the words or smeared the hot goo on your legs – that’s that. You’ve just gotta make peace with it. But in that gut-churningly pressurised instant beforehand, there’s still the chance, the opportunity, to do something differently.