30 is such a good age. You’re close enough to your prime in your 20s, yet now growing into a nice maturity where you make fewer mistakes and enjoy life more. You might be getting married or even starting a family now and your whole life experience is changing for the better. Now life seems to mean so much more to you.
I have many friends that I’ve known for 30 years or more. We don’t see each other that much anymore, but thanks to the wonders of the social media we are able to catch up more easily and more thoroughly. Of course we’re changing year to year. We’re not the clueless, naïve kids from grade school or high school anymore. Our careers have come and gone and now we spend time reflecting, smiling, remembering, and even sometimes just shaking our heads. We wish we had done this and we wish we hadn’t done that. It’s always the same, but in the end none of us would change a thing.
We have our families and our memories. All of us grew up in the 60s. We were a part of the great change in America. At times we were played like a cheap violin by false hopes and dreams thought up by entrepreneurs whose only motive was to make a buck. But we relished and soaked in the new culture of civil rights, drugs, free love, and rock-and-roll. ‘If you can’t be with the one you love honey, love the one you’re with’ was heard and believed way too often.
This year my wife and I celebrate 30 years together. We are beginning the celebrations this week with visits to Charleston, SC and Cocoa Beach, FL. 30 years. Everything seems like it just happened. The wedding, our first apartment, bringing home our baby girl and then bringing home our baby boy. They have long left the nest now and we go about our daily lives keenly interested in everything they do. But this week we walk the beaches, eat wonderful seafood so fresh it wiggles on your plate, and drink a margarita [or two]. And together we remember. It’s fun to remember with someone.
I have many memories, as we all do, that no one would understand. No one else was there, just me. A sunrise in the desert or a cup of coffee in a sleepy Iowa café while listening to a sage farmer’s wisdom can mean nothing to anyone who didn’t share it. And those memories fade with the passage of time and the neglectful inattention they often deserve. But not this week. This week, without any thought toward it, has become one of revelation.
We were talking over dinner and suddenly, out of nowhere, ‘there’s something I wanted to tell you.” The immediate thought while you’re waiting for this revelation is the frightful “Oh God, you were born a boy but everything turned out fine after the operation, right?” But no, it was remarkably insignificant really, but my reaction was “you waited 30 years to tell me this?” And after being a little surprised at each other we would laugh. And then I would think of something that I had never mentioned and then she would and then I would. What we were realizing was that life had happened. The ordinary events of everyday life were always too important or too much in the way of these seemingly insignificant details about ourselves.
And as our week together on the beach continues and we walk the beaches looking for shells, we sometimes will look at each other with the wonderment of universal and continued discovery about the person next to us who we love so much. Now sipping margaritas under the moonlight seems to mean just a little more. Now the love that we have shared for these past 30 years still holds the promise and the excitement that we anticipated on that first date. And when we visit another beach after we have spent 40 years together, 50 years together, we know that there is always something to learn and enjoy about each other. It doesn’t get any better than that.