Sometimes, I get terrified that I won’t get everything out of this life that I yearn for. Because I’m so scared of an empty life, I find ways to truly live in the moment. Turning 30 was no different.
Last year, as my 30th birthday was approaching, I was mending a broken heart and had nothing spectacular planned. Despite all the pain I was facing from yet another failed relationship, I was not going to let 30 pass by as just another day.
I accomplished so much in my 20s. I became a published writer, interviewed A-List celebrities, recorded my first professional voiceover demo, and road in a hot-air balloon with my best childhood friend. I loved and lost in my 20s. I pursued another college degree. I learned and lived through so much. Darnit, 30 was mine and it was not going down without an epic ride — even IF I had to do it on my own.
And that, my friends, is probably the biggest lesson I learned at 30: live your life for you, with you, and if you have to, only with you. Fly solo when you have no one to fly with, but never stop flying.
So, the morning of my 30th arrived.
I hopped out of bed at 5:30 a.m., packed a bag, and left for New York. I filled my Chevy, stopped for a Sausage Egg McMuffin, and hit the road to hang out with Lucille Ball in her hometown of Jamestown, New York. I was going to make 30 special if my life depended on it — after all, I earned that day for a whole decade.
As soon as my wheels hit the road, I found peace. My peace came from the fact that the power of my happiness was within me and me alone. My peace came because I could have all I want in this world if it was left up to me and no one else.
Had I waited for a boyfriend to plan a romantic birthday for me, I would have been disappointed. Had I waited on a friend to make the fire in my candles sparkle, I would have been disappointed. Had I depended on myself, I would have a grand memory to look back on — and I do.
I visited the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. I was once there as a kid, but wanted to go back as an adult to see the additions to the museum. As someone who grew up on sitcoms from before my time, a walk in Lucy’s world was heaven.
Before I arrived at the museum, I pulled over to snap photos of the massive Lucy images that surrounded her hometown. I remember the excitement I felt running out of my car on that chilly January day. I was truly living in the moment. The temperature was cold, but my soul was full of pure warmth. I had a nice conversation with the museum employee. She gave me hope regarding my broken heart. I bought a few postcards because I collect memories and not things. Next, I visited a lighthouse at the Lucille Ball Memorial Park and was in view of a magical frozen lake.
On the way back to Ohio, my home state, I made one last stop that was truly the icing on my birthday cake.
I visited Pymatuning State Park’s campground — the campground that my parents often took us to as children. I walked the same campsite that my family and I spent many of our summers at. My 30th birthday was the first time I had been back to this campground in almost two decades.
I took videos and pictures. I cried because I could feel my dad there as I walked the same grounds we used to walk — the same ones that our family tent rested on. I turned 30 with my dad at the same place I grew up with my dad.
See, it’s important for us to know that we don’t always need someone in our lives physically to actually have them in our lives. If they’re truly in your heart, they are forever with you. The distance between here and Lebanon doesn’t stop me from finding ways to connect with my dad. Sometimes, I just have to work a little harder at it.
The best birthday gift I received was turning 30 with my dad. Life-lived. You make the best of what you have, or you let your circumstances swallow you whole. You decide.
And, I made it home just in time to blow out the candles on the beautiful birthday cake my mom order for me. One person who never let me down on my birthday was my mama. She always had a cake and presents in hand waiting for us no matter what age we turned. They say depend on no one, but some mamas can always be depended on.
For me, 30 went down in history. Not because of where I went, but because I dictated the tone of my day. I decided how my birthday was going to be. I wanted 30 to be magical, and adventurous. I wanted 30 to be with my dad. I wanted to cling to the place that was ours as a kid. Turning 30 gave me all I wanted and more.
Don’t wait for anyone else to hand you all that you desire. Muster up all the strength you have, even if that strength comes in parts, pieces and is all broken. Muster it up anyway and use it to find your own glory.