The thirtysomething

Today I am 30. It’s been a long time coming. (Three decades, some might say.) And for most of my life, 30 has seemed like a finish line of sorts. I assumed that by the time I reached this milestone, I’d have a house at least, and maybe a kid on the way. And then I moved to Boston.

Most of my close friends here are well into their thirties. Nearly all of them still live in apartments. Many travel extensively. Almost none have kids. And it’s a revelation. Now, 30 no longer feels like the threshold of serious adulthood; 30 feels like the new 20. Except way better.

Somehow over the past 30 years, I’ve managed to grow up. I have a career now—complete with direct deposit and some honest-to-goodness professional respect. Not only that, I finally have a pretty good sense of myself. I know what I want out of my life, and I know what I’m not all that worried about.

I don’t need a big house with lots of extra space and fancy finishes: My tiny, crumbling Boston apartment was the greatest place I’ve ever lived. I don’t need a nice car: I prefer to walk wherever I can. I don’t need a house full of children: My kitty cat is cute, cuddly, and capable of feeding herself.

What I need is a quiet living space with a well-stocked kitchen. I need a job that’s fun, challenging, and fulfilling. I need a passport, a small suitcase, and easy access to an international airport.

If you’d asked me five years ago what my life would look like on my 30th birthday, I could’ve drawn you a detailed map. If you ask me today what my life will look like when I’m 35, you’ll be met with a very sincere ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Maybe I’ll have a condo in Boston. Maybe I’ll be back in school. Maybe I’ll have made it back to Africa or finally visited Chile and Argentina. Maybe I’ll have managed to move abroad. I have absolutely no idea, but I’m looking forward to spending my thirties finding out.

The night my hometown was attacked

The first major mass shooting I can remember (as an adult, anyway) was Aurora. I’d been at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, too, and after watching the gory, heartbreaking details come out of Colorado all day, I went home and cried. It could’ve just as easily been me.

The first Black Lives Matter-adjacent moment I can remember was Trayvon Martin’s murder. I read every horrifying detail. I watched the trial. I wanted George Zimmerman to rot in prison forever. And when he didn’t, I felt sick to my stomach.

Over time, both events—mass shootings and senseless black slayings—stopped being surprising. They happened so frequently that they started to feel like the fabric of life in this country. The murder of innocent people was as American as watching the Super Bowl or eating too much at Chili’s.

The first Black Lives Matter moment to shock me back to reality was Michael Brown’s murder. That’s when the marches started. There was one just down the street from my apartment, and—as a civil rights supporter and curious historian—I stopped by for a look.

The first major mass shooting to shock me back to reality was Orlando. I’d been at Boston’s Pride Parade earlier that day, surrounded by love and acceptance and a general sense that humans can be pretty great. The next morning, I found out that 49 of those same lovely humans had been callously murdered at a gay club, and I cried. It could’ve just as easily been me.

Last week, my hometown became the hot zone. A peaceful protest for Black Lives Matter—where black, brown, and white were standing together harmoniously, as people—turned deadly when a psycho showed up with a vendetta and a gun.

I have been crying for Dallas since I first heard the news. I could’ve been there, caught in the crossfire. Protected by one of the cops who was eventually killed. It could’ve just as easily been me.

I don’t know what to think anymore. I don’t want to feel unsafe in large crowds, in my workplace, in my grocery store…but sometimes I do. And I don’t want anyone to become desensitized to the murder of innocent people. America is one of the most progressive countries in the world‍‍‍. Why are we continuing to live and die like this?

I want the hate and the racism and the violence to stop. I want black Americans to feel the same comfort I do when a law enforcement officer approaches. I want to hear about issues that matter—like healthcare and national security—not ugly generalizations about Muslims and Mexicans. I want common sense gun laws that keep weapons for hunting animals with law-abiding citizens and weapons for hunting people with the police and the military. But most of all, I want to remove myself from this offensive and dangerous moment in history. I want to hit the reset button.

One-year Yankees

one_year

It’s been exactly one year since Sean and I traded our chaps and ten-gallon hats for parkas and beanies. One year since we rolled into New England with a cat, two weeks’ worth of clothes, and no idea where we were going to live. One year since we began our new lives in Massachusetts. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the one year we’ve been here, it’s that moving thousands of miles away from home is capital H-A-R-D HARD.

I mean, sure, the first couple of months were like an extended vacation. We were homeless for all of March and half of April, living out of suitcases, and looking forward to finally moving into our townhouse in Boston, so even though we were working, we had no “normal.” Every day was a whirlwind of anticipation and excitement. (Plus, I’d be lying if I said I don’t have very fond memories of eating ramen and watching Redbox movies in our hotel room and hanging out with the friends who took us in.)

But once we got settled and reality set in, the whirlwind of excitement and anticipation turned into a vortex of loneliness and homesickness. I knew no one in the city and was working from home for the company I left behind. I spent all day every day wondering if my work friends were having fun without me and worrying that no one (except, I suppose, my BFF Layla) would notice if I melted right into the floor (because summer without A/C, y’all). When I wasn’t wringing my hands over various employment anxieties, I was praying I’d stop feeling like such an outsider and, if I’m being honest, counting down the days until I could go back home.

On the weekends, though, I was reminded why we moved here the the first place: easy access to at least eight states (and Canada!), incredibly beautiful scenery, and history absolutely everywhere. I got a new job around the six-month mark, which helped, albeit slowly—adjusting to new responsibilities and a new work environment isn’t easy. I had a fair number of bad days at the beginning, and they continued through the holidays (because family, y’all).

But I’m happy to report that within the past three months or so, I’ve noticed a major shift. I finally feel pretty comfortable in this Yankee life. I have friends other than my cat and a job that keeps me on my toes (instead of wrapped up in my head), and homesickness is blessedly rare at this point. Now, instead of looking forward to my next trip to Texas, I’m looking forward to visiting the Cape, camping in Maine, and spending cool summer evenings watching movies by the harbor.

I still feel like an outsider sometimes, but I’ve learned to appreciate it. I love that whenever I tell people I’m not from around here, I get to have really interesting conversations about our cultural differences. (And boy, are they distinct.) Plus, it’s much more exciting to meet up with fellow Aggies (and fellow Cowboys and Rangers fans) here, where our numbers are sparse, than it ever was in Dallas.

Massachusetts and Texas have almost nothing in common, and I love that I’m experiencing a life that’s so different from the one I’m used to. (Winters! I’ve never see so much snow! Public transportation! I’ve only driven four times since we’ve been here! Hockey! I don’t get it yet, but I want to try!) My perspective has changed quite a bit over the past year, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, about what I want out of life, and about what I absolutely don’t, and I’m looking forward to discovering even more as our journey here continues.