Thirty-five is the rhythm of everyday life.
It’s seeing someone and thinking, I knew you well once.
It’s knowing where you are happiest—but how to cope when you can’t be there.
Thirty-five is realizing you’ve lived twice as long as the counselors caring for your kids at camp.
It’s getting dizzy on the roller coasters you once loved as a child.
Or collapsing cross-legged on the floor—but “needing a minute” to get back up.
Thirty-five is confidence in The Way You Do Things.
And at once an awareness of how little you know, how much is uncertain.
It’s being comforted, not frightened, by that.
Thirty-five is out of the honeymoon phase of, oh, just about everything: parenting, profession, marriage, friendships.
It’s realizing life goes on after losing its luster and digging in to the gritty work of it all.
Thirty-five is watching friends become wildly successful in ways that make you tearfully proud, but still remembering that time you shared a bed or bath in your younger days—over twenty-five years ago.
Thirty-five is appreciating time alone more than ever before. It’s knowing what to do with it.
It’s feeling less patient with other people’s peccadillos. But mastering not letting that show.
Thirty-five knows just how to comfort her children during a thunderstorm.
It’s unsubscribing from new moms email groups, viewing those early months of motherhood as a quaint memory.
It’s feeling secure in and sated by your marriage.
Thirty-five relishes setting out, but knows returning home is far sweeter.
It’s coming to terms with the fact that you’ll never wear red.
Or listen to your old mix tapes again.
Thirty-five is feeling that life is, for the most part, sorted and known, while still harboring hope for possibility on your path.
It’s songs on the radio that remind you of someone, soap scents that transport you to a specific place. Thirty-five is wistful. Thirty-five is remembering when…
It’s part of you wanting to go back, and all of you knowing you can’t.
Thirty-five is still battling breakouts, while simultaneously mapping the lines that etch and extend their way between your eyes, around your mouth.
It’s wearing undergarments that suck all of you in.
It’s feeling comfortable letting it all hang out.
It’s finding bars too loud. And Friends reruns far more alluring.
It’s the same gray hoodie and black sweats thrown on at the end of the day.
It’s a long pour of red wine after sundown.
Thirty-five is facing the frailty of family and friends, coming to terms with the truism that every day on this earth is a gift.
It’s accepting certain vices—nail biting, that coffee addiction, your stubborn streak—as immutable.
It’s realizing that, even as you become more set in your ways, dig deeper grooves in the ground beneath your feet, you can connect with anyone over something.
Thirty-five is looking in the mirror to see beautiful-tired staring back at you.
It’s salt and pepper strands slowly overtaking, but not to the point where you do anything just yet.
It’s making sure that nighttime moisturizer says something about anti-aging on the label.
Thirty-five is wondering if jeans with a slit in the knee is trying too hard.
Thirty-five is neither here nor there.
It’s kissing your kids goodnight and then turning in yourself, giddy to have a good book in hand.
It’s waking at 4am to the contemplative quiet of the early morning hours before your world wakes.
At thirty-five, freedom is flooring it in your minivan.
It’s imagining one more…positive pregnancy test, round belly, warm soft baby against your slackening skin …but worrying whether your body, and everything else, will break under the weight of it all.
Thirty-five is cobbling friends together in odd places and in ways perhaps you’d once scoffed at—through office companionship, school drop offs, social media.
It’s knowing that however these friendships formed, they’re the ones you can’t live without.
Thirty-five is feeling at peace with your life and lot, but still sensing the subtle stirrings of discontent. A nagging awareness, a whispered question: can this be all there is?
Thirty-five is not the end of the story.
My 35th birthday was a little over a week ago, and I wrote this post to capture a moment in time. I was inspired by Galit Breen’s gorgeous This Is 39.
“That’s all that exists in the end, what has been written down.” – James Salter