I’m 35 today.
It’s a weird feeling, arriving at an age that suggests established adulthood when my life resembles a never-ending vortex of chaos mixed with a good measure of underachievement. 35 suggests an age when people generally have grown into themselves and their decisions; when life stabilizes, at least temporarily. When you feel good about most things that you’ve done; when you make enough to afford small luxuries and most things fit into place. Or, at least that’s how I imagined it.
Instead, I am 35 today and having only been behind the wheel of a car once, I feel like I’m in a F-1 race, drunk to the point where decisions are confusing and laborious, trying to figure out how to drive. I’m technically, miraculously, still in the race, but I’m not sure what lap I’m on, when we’re supposed to stop, or what we’re all racing away from. Given the circumstances, however, I suppose I could be doing a lot worse.
I say that without allowing myself the luxury of being grateful for things that my friends tell me I should take into consideration; that I’m not, for example, a homeless convicted sex offender or a crack addict turning tricks to support her habit. I am aware that my life could be much worse, but I also wonder what it says about my friends’ perceptions of me that they revert to such extreme examples. Couldn’t they choose less desperate hypotheticals?
That’s not to say that they’re wrong. Despite the fact that the bottom fell out of my life recently – or perhaps because of it – my current life can only be described, for better or for worse, as unexpected. It’s not cycling or lifting, but CrossFit, that has become that thing I do to keep my mind off of everything else. And because I need to keep it a daily practice to keep those black dogs at bay, the workouts and WODs have led, to, of all things, preparing batches of broccoli and chicken breast twice a week.
I had always seen meal prepping as too rigid and restricting given my desire to be perceived as easy-going and flexible. Who wants to be around someone who is so Type A and neurotic about their food, I thought. Who wants to eat the same thing every day for lunch and dinner? Who is humorless enough to choke down chicken breast twice a day? And then I became one of those people.
Let’s be clear; that’s not to say I actually eat well. I follow up that chicken and broccoli with ice cream and potato chips on a daily basis, which means that I am only trying to make up for my otherwise shitty diet at meal times. I call it balance.
Yet, my best efforts at self-sabotage via a half-assed diet have ironically resulted in arriving at 35 looking better than I ever have. Like a cheaper form of liposuction, CrossFit erased the cellulite I couldn’t get rid of unless I was at least 3 kg lighter than my current weight. Everything got tighter. I grew lats and my back got brawny. I actually look like I lift things with my arms and not just my legs. It feels pretty good.
But the best part is that I have people to lean on when times get tough, who will listen and nod and give me a hard time. The same friends that tell me that while I might feel like the emotional version of nuclear winter, “at least you don’t look that way.” The ones that get coffee with me, and sometimes McDonald’s, and who will stay on the phone whether I’m sobbing or laughing. Whatever my underachievements or my failings at constructing an age-appropriate life, those friends remain a sign that I might not be doing it all wrong.
I’m 35 today. Still drunk behind the wheel of that F-1 race car. Still confused, still figuring it out. But things could be worse.
Here’s to another lap, another year of keeping the rubber side down.