The biggest change I’ve noticed in my self since I turned 30 is a kind of acceptance. It started before then, of course. But it became really apparent on my birthday.
I spent the day driving my Subaru through my suburb. My friends and I drank a few beers at some breweries. Then I went home, FaceTimed my fiancé and took a nap with my dog.
Four years ago, when I was most actively blogging, I lived in a tiny apartment downtown. I drove a sub-compact hatchback. I went out late two to three nights per week. I was dating around and definitely couldn’t handle owning a dog.
Every change along the way felt hard in its own way. Even though covid-19 shut down my city, I still hated leaving my overpriced in-town neighborhood. I loved my little car, but commuting with a manual transmission was terrible. Moving in with my then boyfriend during lockdown was tough. Especially when we had to share 650 square feet while I was working full-time and finishing up grad school from home. It took a full year of living together before we decided, over iMessage on a flight, to get a dog. Then another couple weeks to find our perfect pup, a two-year-old beagle who we named Sherlock.
The decisions themselves weren’t hard. They made sense. Many of them were more logistical than emotional. The hard part was giving up the things I considered core elements of my identity in my twenties.
Living in Atlanta, in particular, influenced a lot of that identity. There’s a circular freeway (or beltway) around Atlanta that locals refer to as The Perimeter. Where you live in relation to these ten lanes of traffic tells people a lot about you. Living Inside The Perimeter (ITP) means you probably vote blue. It means you know how to parallel park. It means you begrudgingly tolerate rapid gentrification in order to experience a kind of hip or cool culture. Living Outside the Perimiter (OTP) often, though not always, means the opposite of these things. Layer that on top of the neighborhood stereotypes that persist in any city, and moving takes on a lot of significance.
I didn’t go so far as to move OTP, but I’m right on the line. Add on a committed relationship, a dog and a new job and it suddenly starts feeling like a big departure from the unattached urban lifestyle of my twenties. And yet, as I turned 30, I felt oddly fine about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss the city. I still have to go out on a late night to a hipster cocktail bar about once every three months. It keeps me feeling young. But I also really love my quiet little neighborhood. I love our local pub. I can’t imagine not having a dog, but I know we couldn’t without our little postage stamp of a yard. And he is way easier to transport in an SUV than he would have been in my little Mazda.
I’m not saying this is an original insight. Lots of people change as they get older. And they often become more “traditional” (or Heaven forbid “conservative”). I just naively thought I wouldn’t. And yet, here I am, writing this blog post at the fancy members only dog park, sipping mimosas with my fiancé while our beagle sunbathes.
Tonight we may venture out to the city for an evening of dancing and drinking at a hip gay bar. But we’ll probably be home by midnight. And we’ll certainly spend all day tomorrow at home, in bed, in the suburbs.