I’m 30 now. I remember finishing up a piano lesson last Wednesday and looking over at the clock and seeing it was midnight. That was it; my birthday. The start of a new decade. I suppose in Canada I was still twenty-nine, but in my life in Scotland, I was thirty. I went straight to bed and woke up at 4am to watch the sunrise on Arthur’s Seat. I did that last year too, except there was too much fog and I didn’t see a thing. This year, the sky was glorious. I don’t know if that means anything; I hope it does. I hope it symbolises everything the year ahead will look like. I’m always trying to find hidden meaning in things. Maybe thirty is when you’re supposed to stop doing things like that. Maybe by the time you reach thirty, you’re supposed to realize that sometimes a sunrise is just a sunrise.
I remember lying in bed on the eve of my 20th birthday thinking that everything was going to happen to me this decade. And I remember feeling scared and sad because I didn’t know if I was ready for that. In the end, not everything happened to me but a lot of things did. I never made it to Argentina but I made it to a lot of other places. I found love and lost it and found it again. I cried a lot; in my bed, in someone’s arms, at the end of a book, in the visa office in Hong Kong, quietly, loudly, in waves of tears and gentle trickles. I looked out plane windows and cried too, hoping the person next to me couldn’t hear me.
I said the wrong thing or I didn’t say anything at all. I tried not to hurt people but ended up hurting them anyway. I said ‘I’m sorry,’; I said ‘I love you’; I said ‘goodbye’. I said too much and I didn’t say enough. I hurt people and they hurt me too. But I loved people and they loved me too.
I stayed out too late and came home too early. I gave people too many chances; I didn’t give them a chance at all. I got lost and then somehow found my way, sometimes because people helped me, sometimes because I got lucky, and sometimes because I figured it out on my own.
I usually feel sad on my birthdays because I feel like I didn’t make the most of things. I was so scared time would pass me by and suddenly I’d be old. I was scared that I would miss out on life, that I’d have so many regrets, that time would keep going and I’d be swept up in it.
I used to always ask older people what it felt like for them to turn thirty and I don’t remember any of their answers. But to me, something about turning thirty felt peaceful. I don’t feel old and I don’t feel rushed. My apartment is full of bouquets of flowers; it smells like Omi’s garden. There are unopened bottles of champagne and wine to drink one day. The balloons read ‘happy birthday’. It was a happy birthday and I am happy. I think out of everything I’ve done and everything I’ve accomplished, being happy is the thing I’m most proud of.