I turned 29 on Monday. It went pretty much the same way my past few birthdays have gone in that I avoided thinking about turning 29 for the entire year, panicked in the days leading up to turning 29 and started to feel very, very queasy and existential about it, and then woke up on my birthday feeling very much the same and not that much older, was relieved, and promptly began Googling anti-aging face masks.
This year I celebrated my birthday in Las Vegas because my boyfriend lives there now and I didn’t want him to feel like 2,500 miles between us was enough of a reason to not get me a birthday present, or worse, get me a belated birthday present. So I did what any crazy, greedy girlfriend would do and flew out there unannounced. Just kidding, I told him I was coming. When I was already at the airport. Just kidding.
Even though I’m in Las Vegas a lot now (leading all of my coworkers to believe I am a huge creep with a gambling problem), I’ve never celebrated a birthday there. Leading up to the trip, I had every intention of going out on the town––maybe even two nights in a row!––and prepared for the occasion by getting a pedicure and buying a skirt at H&M that is appropriate for exactly two venues: 1) a club in Las Vegas and 2) a Halloween party at a club in Las Vegas. But when Friday night in Las Vegas was finally upon us, I decided I’d rather eat ice cream and watch Friends, and then Saturday night rolled around and I decided I’d rather eat ice cream and watch American Ninja Warrior. And then Sunday night we ate pizza and drove around critiquing houses in various Las Vegas neighborhoods, and then Monday night (my actual birthday) I finished the contents of the complimentary bread basket at dinner and couldn’t even drink all of my peach sangria and fell asleep at 11 p.m. even though I really, really wanted to watch at least one episode of Friends. Is this what adulthood is? This sucks! And also: this rules!
Perhaps most fitting of all is that on the plane ride home, I decided to upgrade my seat as a sort of birthday present to myself. Mostly I just wanted to be able to get the f off that plane when it landed instead of having to hang around in the back (my usual airplane stomping grounds) and wait for all the olds to fumble around with their carry-on suitcases and Banana Republic shopping bags and shuffle off the plane. What I didn’t realize is that only olds sit at the front of the plane in the “upgraded” seats. Even the bodybuilders who had been in town for the Mr. Olympia competition, whose legs were like tree trunks that could probably serve as a makeshift bridge across a small river, and whose calves were the size (and shape) of basketballs, sat in the regular seats. I was the only person under the age of 70 at the front of the plane and the only person who could successfully open and close the bathroom door in a single attempt and the only person who didn’t ask the flight attendant for hot tea and a cranberry juice and the only person who didn’t change their snack order twice because their wife got the cookies and wouldn’t share. I realized that if a terrorist were to try to storm the cockpit, I would be the best chance at stopping it because Mr. Olympia was too far back and probably also lodged in his seat and three people would have to help pry him out before he could even stomp up the aisle. This was maybe the most frightening realization I had ever had and, in that vulnerable, anxiety-filled moment, my armpits started to spontaneously sweat a little bit. But then I realized that maybe such an attempt (and my subsequent hampering of it) would give me a great shot at being on Dancing with the Stars, which made me less nervous and, if I’m being honest, maybe a little excited. Look, I’m obviously not saying I want something like that to happen, I’m just saying that if it did, I would be very determined to stop it in order to stay alive and, more importantly, dance with Mark Ballas.
Anyway, I’m home now and am comfortably settling into 29. When my best friend turned 29 last month, she said she was looking forward to being 29 because it meant she could finally embrace the person she has always been deep down: the person who would rather get a pint of ice cream at 7-11 and watch YouTube videos on a Friday night rather than go out to a bar where it’s loud and there’s too many people who look like they’re home from college and so make you feel like an old ugly shoe. She said 29 is when we’ll shine, or at least just feel at home, and I think that’s true. I’m 29, and I was asleep before 11 p.m. every night this week (as I’m wont to do)––except for Wednesday when I stayed up “late” (11:48) watching all four hours of Dancing with the Stars that I had missed while I was in Las Vegas. I belong to a Facebook group where moms post pictures of the healthy lunches they ate that day to motivate the other moms who also want to feel their best, and when I eat food late at night or fly on a plane I have to take Gas-X afterwards. This weekend I am going to buy a face mask to eliminate dark circles and treat myself to a new pair of sweatpants. This is 29, and I like it.