To Be 31

It’s my birthday. I’m 31 today. That’s a big deal. To most people, the only birthdays that matter after one turns 21 are the ones that end with a zero. For me, yeah, turning 30 was significant, but I’m putting a lot of stock in turning 31. Here’s why:
Twenties? Forget ‘em. They’re fun. You do things, but one step doesn’t necessarily lead to the next in your 20′s. You’re having fun, you’re figuring things out, then you turn 30.
My first day as a 30-year-old (a Friday), I taught a class of seven undergraduate students about journalism. Then I went out drinking (I was still in grad school). Think about the meaning of numbers in relation to age. Yeah, 30 is a biggie. To anyone in their 20′s, it’s a sign of impending “oldness.” But when you’re 30, you’re still trying to convince everyone you’re the same person you were at 29. So, really, nothing changed. Thirty is kinda old, but not really – still young, still somewhat immature, still not considered as having seniority.
So you have a year to grow out of this. Grow. Out of it. What’s 31? It’s the year you truly understand you’re no longer in your 20′s. You cuss, then you carry on. You learn the difference between growing older and getting older. You learn the difference between earning and receiving. Gerald Brenan said, “Old age takes away from us what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned.” This is a guy who tried to walk to China, folks. From where, you ask? Don’t worry about it. China is far away. He knew what he was talking about.
I can say that because I’m 31. Totally different from 30. It’s not numerical – it’s psychological. It’s like how they say the new millenium actually began in 2001 instead of 2000. Well, the 30′s officially begin at 31. Thirty is a transitory year. Thirty-one exudes confidence. Thirty-one exudes maturity. Thirty-one is the 30′s-level equivalent of Ralphie beating up Scott Vargas. It’s the equivalent of Cameron Frye trashing his father’s Ferrari. It’s Miles stealing back Christine’s engagement ring when Jack left it at that waitress’ house. I am stealing back the engagement ring. Well, today, I steal that ring back and save Jack’s marriage. I kick a Ferrari out of an elevated glass garage. I beat the crap out of a yellow-eyed red-headed bully.
Today, I’m 31. Word.