I've been conscious of writing cliched posts like this since Lena Dunham compiled a book of essays, under the ironic byline "a young woman tells you what she's 'learned'". When I read that, I became so aware of how much of cliche I can be in my blogging style. I am only one fabulous NYC apartment and a love triangle away from being one of the UK's many, many answers to Carrie Bradshaw. We even have the same hair, Carrie and I. Not that there's anything wrong with being a cliche - I have long since maintained that cliches are cliches for a reason i.e. because they are concepts which are universally and greatly appreciated.
That said, I don't want this post to be just another list of "30 things I want to achieve before I am 30" because I don't think I can think of that many. My life's ambition pretty much amounts to "live, laugh, love, eat" and that's only four. Sorry, were they a few more cliches?
Instead I want to reflect on the things in my life which so far have been my absolute most favourites - from feelings to food. As I near the big fat 30 milestone, I have been thinking about the stuff I will recall on judgement day, when I am asked what my life was all about (which will definitely happen). I share that list with you heretofore. It includes pizza.
"The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page."- St Augustine
How lucky we are that we live in a time when it takes just a bit of extra cash and some time off work to jump on a plane and head off to any part of our world we choose. We can dip our toes in so many shores. We can capture so many cultures, and keep them in a camera. We can spy on the way people live, celebrate, and love across continents. How lucky are we that we can do that. Travel has always been so important to me and has brought me so much. It gives me perspective, it relieves my every day stress, it reminds me how insignificant 'it' all is, it fills me with wonder. For someone undeniably passionate about even the finer details of her life, it does me the world of good to explore our globe and remember there is so much more. In my thrties and beyond, I want to read the world.
Melted cheese. On bread. With Meat. And if you want it, a moat of more melted cheese in bread. I could eat pizza every single day that I am alive. I never don't want a pizza. Thank you, Italy! Thank you, cheese! Thank you, inventor of dough! Pizza is my one true food love and I will worship it forever.
We are seekers of familiarity. We travel in packs. We like people who are like ourselves, share our experiences, or validate our own perception of the world, because it combats the natural loneliness that comes with being born into this life of chance. My sisters and I have a connection like no other, because no-one knows my life's experiences like they do.We don't always have to be close to be close. The bond of sharing an entire childhood together, being raised by the same parents, keeping the exact same foot-prints until you are old enough to carve your own path - that is unrivaled. My sisters are and will always be so significant to me - they have shaped me, and I have shaped them, and nothing can take that away.
For the most part, for most people, I think a lot of what we do is born out of love. Love for a person, love for a past-time, love for yourself, love of money. Not all love is good, but the good love has always been my end goal. I love to love like nothing else, I am over-flowing with love to give, and I am never happier than when I have something to project all that love onto. I never feel more alive than when I am in love, and as I have traveled through my twenties I have learnt more and more what the enormous word "Love" means. It means more with each person I meet, and my understanding of it matures with me. The depth and complexity of love I feel at 29 is incredible, and I hope I one day know what it means to love at 70, 80, 90 - it must be something so enlightened, so real, and so definitive of humanity. I hope my thirties are full of the stuff.
I don't like bed-time and mainly want to always be up, awake and OUT in the world. When I can't sleep I feel like a prisoner, waiting endlessly for morning to come and set me free. But actually, the concept of bed is one I love. We take bed for granted. We assume we'll always be able to return to bed. We treat bed-time as secondary to the pursuits of the day. But on reflection, my bed is my haven, it's my safety net, and where I have spent more time than anywhere. Bed is a big bloody deal. All hail bed.
I cannot imagine a world where I wasn't free to express myself. Expressing my "self" makes me real. When I talk to my loved ones, I am living. These words I type now bring me to life. When I vocalise my thoughts and feelings, I am giving life my absolute all and projecting myself on to the world. Maybe my challenge is to learn to feel alive without expressing myself, but right now, aged 29, I want to put as much of a stamp onto the world as I can. I want to change the things that seem wrong to me, I want to create, say, do, run. I feel so lucky to live in a time when we are free to not only do all those things, but be inspired by others doing the same. I will never shut-up, I will never stop creating, I will never stop being, doing, and saying, because I am here for a limited time and I want to etch my soul onto the world, on every person I meet, on every place I go.
It's good for you, a cup costs barely anything, it's ready in 2 minutes (5 if done properly!) - it's so simple. Yet it is one of the very few things that I would genuinely struggle to live without. I gave up caffeine for one month at Uni and it was dire.
Comfy clothes are the cat's pyjamas. I'd happily exchange all my jeans, shirts, and skirts for a wardrobe entirely full of themed baggy trousers and holey hoodies. I wear them for as much of my life as possible. When I am getting ready for work, when I get home from work, all weekend, all Christmas, on my birthday, now. I do not see the point of imprisoning yourself in clothes when you can be free and at ease in the comfiest-wear possible. Why a pyjama is traditionally limited to a night-time outing is beyond me.
This stuff is responsible for so many disasters and downfalls. It's ruined a generation of livers and bank accounts. It's filled our fridges and emptied our funds. It's spilled on our sofas and spewed on our pavements. It's destroyed relationships and rugs alike. So how have so many of my fondest memories been born out of this poison? Why then have some of my strongest connections been soldered together by this source? What is it that means something so potentially destructive has built some of my most treasured experiences and life lessons? Alcohol, you are the only devil I love.
The sea scares me more than any great mountain or towering sky. We can't survive in water, so the thought we are surrounded by - and have no control over - vast oceans of the stuff is terrifying. The thought that so much lives in the sea, is even more so. But the things that scare me make me feel alive, and when I look out to the sea (or look down at it from the perilous safety of an aeroplane) I am at once overcome with fear and freedom. You can't stand in front of an ocean, look out at the vast, cold, unknown and feel anything other than small and appreciative. Even when my ginger skin is scalding to blisters, playing in the sea is the best therapy for me.
"They are the family you get to choose. They are the cherry on your cake, the stars in your sky, your support bra, your walking stick, the cushions in your en suite."
This is my favourite thing to do. More than any of the other past-times I hold so dear. My head and heart are so often filled with anxieties, that any chance to distract myself with silliness is one I relish. Laughing in particular is my best thing to do, because it just lifts the spirits so, so high, and fights dem troubles with vigor. Although the age of 30 might greet me with more responsibility, and more serious overtones than my twenties knew, I still want to be silly as much as I can, because it's fun.
Wise, spiritual, thoughtful, reflective, emotional - and between them they taught me to be all these things. They continue to enlighten and counsel me, and I hope as I grow into my thirties I can sometimes do the same for then.