I'm going to turn 30 this year. And every time I think of it (once I get over the initial shock) I remind myself that I've been looking forward to this age for quite some time now. Which may sound a bit odd, unless you know that I have felt 30 for the past five years. I've always been a dinner party and prep your meals for the week kind of guy. And now that I've exercised my self-care muscles for a few years, I'm awfully excited for my 30s. Though I won't be able to make the much coveted Craftactular Magazine's 30 under 30 (and not just because I just made that magazine up), my twenties will go down as a truly wonderful time of experience, experiments, friendship, love, and learning. And after my declaration of intention for this my thirtieth year on this blue-green world, I thought I'd expand for a few weeks on my roaring twenties.
Experience. I've been so blessed in this life, with a good head on my shoulders, and a hunger to try new things. My FOMO was always less about closing down the bar, or attending some sort of fête than it was about missing out on backpacking in a foreign land (something I'm currently obsessing about), missing out on seeing the foliage in the mountains, missing out on meeting new, inspiring people, missing opportunities to create and challenge myself.
When I left high school, I attended George Mason University, which I'll admit to be a safe school which my brother and sister had attended. I remember staying with Bryan for an Offspring concert when I was 14 or so, drinking IBC root beer and playing Gran Tourismo with his roommates (they may have been drinking another type of beer). Maybe playing a little guitar with some friends who had come over to drink (though my brother never touched the stuff). It was definitely a positive experience. But a lot had changed from 14-18 and by the time I attended, I had become a bit of a book nerd wünderkind. I subscribed to the Guardian newspaper, I wrote poems in my free time, saved up for Ikea furniture and collected books and bookcases. I no longer listened to the same music as my brother and sister, having leapt into the vast ocean of musical influence the internet provides. So when I got to George Mason, it shouldn't have been surprising that things didn't feel quite the same. I struggled to make connections with people. Felt betrayed by the idea of campus life (at the time it was a commuter school, which died in a shocking way on the weekends). And felt let down by the academics outside of my honors classes (which admittedly contained some of my favorite professors of all time). But mostly it was the idea of attending a college that felt more like night school, that really didn't sit with me. So I set my sights on William and Mary and made the leap. And with my risk came the greatest reward of my life so far.
William and Mary was everything that George Mason was not, challenging, lively, fully of weirdos who I related to easily. I made so many lifelong friends within the first year, of whom a solid handful I consider my closest and most positive relationships. I loved being at a school where people were often smarter and more ambitious than I was. I loved that people at parties talked about obscure music and obscure books, and theories about the physics of beer pong that were delightfully nonsensical. This decision also spurred the end of my first love, and because of that, cemented the knowledge that change is hard, but change is good. Because I was so heartbroken in my first year at William and Mary, I clung to these people with a fierceness I wouldn't have dared otherwise, and that vulnerability paid me back many times over.
My next big leap was after college. I ran to Austin. I left with a companion, who never properly engaged in the riches of the city. As he was a fellow George Mason ship jumper, I thought he would have understood the perils of not reaching for more in a new place. But once he left within the first year, I was free to fully engage with the city where I would become myself. I became an artist in Austin, without the help of any real fine art scene to speak of. Which may explain why craft and the tactility and approachable medium of paper jumped out at me, and why I eased into making art in the first place. I had my first gallery wall. I catered multiple events including ACL. I really learned to cook, by talking constantly with the approachable and talented chefs at my favorite serving job (tackled my first baguette, my first charcuterie, got really good at thai food, whisked eggnog by hand, learned to make breakfast tacos). Saw some amazing local music and then coincidentally met and became friends with some of said musicians thanks to my wonderful friend Chris. Fell in love for the second time, quite unexpectedly. Traveled to Marfa. Danced and made out with girls at Barbarella, before it was a two story wasteland. Rediscovered my love of reading, of decorating. Gave internet writing a shot, working for a local blog writing tech, interviewing musicians and doing food writing.
Then the jump to New York. Here, I have made great friends. I launched my successful Kickstarter! I made two sets of wedding invitations. I moved twice and lucked upon the first apartment in New York I can truly call home. Somewhere in there, I lost my job and savings. I lost myself a bit, and I lost my dad. But what I've gained in New York cannot really be measured. A sense of accomplishment. A sense of wonder. And an unapologetic attitude toward who I am and what I want to do with my life. I have become a focused celebrator of the environment and America's beautiful national lands. I have stopped buying clothes. I have become a bird person. I was settled enough to go home and help take care of my father, and after his death, take an epic road trip across america exploring some of the most beautiful lands in the world. I have melded my ambitious cooking with the practicality of making 90 percent of my own meals on a budget. I have started and maintained this blog for over a year. And I'm in position to really make Shipwreck happen this year. And I couldn't be more pleased.
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