Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Rest in Peace, 20s

As you sit here reading this (presuming you’re reading this on Thursday), I am a mere one day from turning 30. The end of my twenties has come. Part of me feels like this should be a momentous occasion, like the passing of my twenties is some great rite of passage or signifies the death of my youth. I can’t honestly say that I’m all that fussed though.  It helps that all but a few friends have already turned 30, most by at least a year. Getting older is easy when you’re still the baby of the group.

Turning 30 is a bit surreal I suppose. For one, it sounds much older than 29.  It also seems like when you turn 30, you’re really an adult (though looking again at my friends, I’m not sure where I got that impression from). For me, and for most of my friends, our twenties were a time to go to college, have fun and figure out what we were doing with our lives. At 30, the assumption seems to be that you should at least have a life plan – know what you’re doing, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. I can’t honestly state that I’ve achieved that yet. Work is going fine but I can’t really see myself doing this for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I’m not sure what else I would do. It just seems like for all my education and everything I’ve done, I should have that figured out by now. Looking around though, it seems at least that I’m in good company.

It also doesn’t help to compare myself to the previous generation. By the time my mom was 30, she had been married for several years, had my sister and I was already two. She had a nice, two-story, three bedroom house with a big yard and my sister and I didn’t really want for anything. By comparison, I have a small 2 bedroom condo with no yard space, which my husband technically bought, and I can’t keep a plant alive –I don’t even want to think about kids. On the other hand, I’ve been able to travel and do a lot of things she couldn’t because she had the house and kids. Life’s a trade-off I suppose.

As I watch the remaining hours of my twenties drift away, I’ve grown contemplative. I had an absolute blast during my twenties. Sure, there were bumps and hiccups along the way, but in 10 years, I studied abroad in Australia, finished college, moved to a new state, started my career, bought a house, started and finished a masters degree, got married and had found new loves in camping, skiing and scuba diving. All things considered, not too shabby a way to spend 10 years. Here’s hoping the next 10 are just as good, if not better!

Here's lookin' at you, kid

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I coulda been a contender

I am not an ultimate fighter.  Not even close.  But, I could have been….maybe.

I was offered a chance to train with an ultimate fighter.  Yeah, the octagonal cage kind.  No holds barred, knock down, drag out kind.  When I look at my too-chubby thighs and lament my gut, I regret not taking him up on it.

When I was in college I took a few PE classes.  They were once or twice a week and they were fun.  I took weight lifting, tennis, aerobics and self-defense.  I always signed up for these classes with a buddy.  I didn’t initially want to take self-defense.  I thought it would be lame; a bunch of women standing in a circle shouting, “NO!” at a man covered head-to-toe in protective gear.  But I was eventually talked into it by my friend.

When we showed up on the first day, it very quickly became apparent that this wasn’t what I had been expecting.  This was hardcore.  We would be learning how to grapple, how to dislocate kneecaps, how to break ankles, how to break a chokehold and fight back if someone has a knife. I was really excited.  On top of that, we would spend part of each class doing conditioning, situps and pushups.  Our instructors would walk around the room while we were laying on our backs, feet 6 inches in the air, and they would stand on our stomachs.  See?  Hardcore.

I loved it.  I partnered with my friend, and since we were familiar with one another, we didn’t have qualms about trying the different wrestling and grappling moves on each other.  We really went for it.  One day, after class, our instructor asked us to stay back.  He said we were doing great, and did we want to do some extra training with him and his co-trainers.  By this time, I had lost about 10 pounds because of the class, I felt stronger, empowered and in control.  We said yes.

We did extra training for the rest of the semester. A few weeks after we started, a former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler came to speak to our class.  He spent a few minutes talking, then offered to show us some moves.  My instructor tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I want you to go up against him.”  Now, I’m 110% certain that this man, had he wanted to, could have crushed me in about three seconds.  And to be fair, it didn’t take much more than that for me to be flying through the air, wondering precisely how strong someone had to be to swing me around like that. But I got back up and went for another go.  I would like to tell you that I managed more than four seconds that time, but no. After that, my trainer asked if we wanted to come to his studio to work out.  We said yes, but then time and other preoccupations got the better of us and we never followed up.

I’m not a person who generally looks back and has regrets.  I’m not always proud of the things I do, but I feel that if it’s worth it, I’ll make it better.  I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by people who believe in forgiveness and moving on.  I try to live my life well.  I don’t try to hurt people, I don’t lie, I try to be kind.  I take chances. But this is the one opportunity I wish I had taken, to do something maybe a little out of my comfort zone. Something different.  I could have been a fighter, a warrior, I could have spread the pain.  But I didn’t. I’m ok with my choice, but sometimes I wonder, how would that choice have changed me?

One thing’s for sure.  I would have had a kick-ass fighter name.

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I’ve moved a lot, but adapting to a new city usually wasn’t been too hard. As a kid, moving inserted you into an instant social structure – school. In most cases I was making friends by the first week. My move across the country was the roughest – I was a little lonely in 8th grade (because 8th graders are terrible, horrible, anti-social creatures) but by the time I hit 9th grade I joined a crazy amount of clubs and had lots of friends by the end of the first few months.

College was easy – I went to school in the same town as I had been living in for high school. College wasn’t just high school part 2 though. Many of my friends went to different schools; those who didn’t, for the most part, I still ended up falling out of touch with. However, I was living with my sister and she introduced me to all of her friends and soon they became my own.

The post-college graduation transition wasn’t too bad either. While this was one of my larger moves, from PA to NJ, I moved in with my sister (one might say I’m a mooch) until I got a job and my own apartment. A friend from high school and college moved in with me and my boyfriend wasn’t too far away. The biggest difference with this was move was that I was in a much more urban area than I ever had been previously. Still, with my trusty sister to navigate the way and point me in the right direction to the train, it really wasn’t a hard adaptation. State College, PA had always been too small for my liking so I was happy to be in the thick of things, even if my apartment was infested with mice and felt like it might fall over when a large truck drove by outside.

My final move was from Jersey City, NJ to where I live now in Edison, NJ. This brought me back to the ‘burbs, which necessitated me getting a car not terribly long after moving.  I’m fortunate in that I live within walking distance to the train I need for work, but a car was necessary for getting to a grocery store and such.

*yawn* I’m sorry. I think I’m boring myself writing this. I’ve had a lot of moves, but through the kindness of family and friends, I’ve never really had any major adjustment period or difficult transition. Or maybe I was just too clueless to notice. Whatever the case, it worked for me!

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