thirty laps

Dear Thirty-Year-Old Me:

This morning, after twenty-five relatively uneventful laps around the sun, you awoke in a stranger's apartment in your yesterday-clothes with your crotch aggressively smashed against a gentleman's back. Your bodies shaped like two spoons who didn't get introduced the night before.

And you were afraid. Not because you weren't quite sure where you were or because after looking at your unfriendly bedmate you were pretty sure yours was not a relationship of spooning, but because you were twenty-five years old and you were never the youngest anything ever in your entire life, and never will be. Your writing had never been described as "game changing", you'd never been paid a living wage to art and you couldn't even get laid on your birthday.

So, naturally after fleeing the Andersonville apartment of that particular stranger, you decided to write this.

I suppose it might have been more effective to write a letter to myself at sixteen and say something like—Oh, I don't know, "develop a better relationship with your dad so you're not such a fucking mess by the time you hit your mid-twenties" or more succinctly, "nothing great has ever happened in the bathroom at Berlin." But time travel is impossible, and until I find that magic mailbox from the Lake House, I'll have to settle for this. A roadmap out of the remainder of my twenties and a kick in the ass for you when you hit thirty. Because I know us, we don't handle birthdays well.

Let's get started.

First off: Calm the fuck down.

I'll admit, when I first decided to write you today, my mind was on all the things we needed to get done in the next 5 years. The letter this-morning-me wanted to write was going to be a laundry list of life milestones that he was pretty certain we should hit any day now. New career plateaus and men of races we had only read about in books!

But I scrapped that plan. I mean, sure. I would love to see us at thirty, celebrating our two year anniversary with a sexy biracial computer programmer who's busy paying off our student loans and It would be lovely to know that you have a shelf full of Jeff Awards (given in categories that you suggested: "Dramatic Posing!" and "Showing Up On Time!"), because I have dreams. Sue me.

But today, fuck all your expectations. There is no standard of success you needed to reach today to somehow validate your time on earth as a human being. I know that Lena Dunham has probably won like a thousand Emmys by this point and yes you are the only single person left on the planet earth, but remember: there are many different paths to happiness, your journey is your own and Lena Dunham is a white girl from New York with parents that made "overtly sexualized pop art" and you were homeschooled in a farm town by Biblical literalists— please stop fucking comparing yourself to these people. 

I do have some expectations for us now that we're thirty. Some things I don't necessarily have down yet, but fully intend to have on lock down by the time I hit thirty. No pressure. 

Make the hard choices about who and what you love, and cut out the rest. Stop making excuses for those smells. Just because you like cats, doesn't mean you have to look like you like cats. It's okay to be the first person to arrive at the party. Continue to be hard on yourself, every day all day, but remember to smile and look people in the eyes if they say something nice. Remember to have something that is only yours, not everything has to be a bit in your act. Can we grow facial hair yet? If the answer is no, that's okay. If the answer is yes—no. stop. You're not pulling that off. Second drafts are a good thing. Stop eating in bed. When you see someone else's success, don't yell out "I can do that" because you can't. They just did it. Get your own thing.

I hope that this internet is still around when we're thirty. I really do. So that you can read all this, and I d'know, laugh? Maybe you won't need all these reminders, maybe you'll be this fully grown special flower who is totally at home in his own skin and, like doesn't even go online anymore because you're too busy reading books and hanging out with your two life partners, Ezra and Nathan, because yeah, you're in a plural relationship but you're so fucking emotionally mature that jealousy doesn't even occur to you anymore, because you're that grown up. Maybe that's what thirty looks like. 

More likely, your life is probably much the same as it is today. And that's cool too. 

See you in five years. Don't fuck it up!

- Joel

PS: Look at your body. We had a really nice thing going for us in our mid-twenties and then you had to go and ruin it with your cheese. Get the fuck to the gym, man.