Yesterday a friend of mine got the kind of medical diagnosis a young, healthy person in their early-30s just isn’t supposed to get. It was the first time in my life I’ve done that grim thing adults do–gather together to console each other in times of crisis. My other friends and I told funny stories and “took her mind off things” the way I’ve seen my mother do a dozen times. Within twenty minutes of hearing the news I was in the kitchen making cake. I always wondered why people do that; now I know. In the vast and complicated world that tragedy reveals, cake is something that makes sense.
Two weeks ago I turned 30, which is supposed to be one of the milestones of adulthood, right up there with having children or getting married. Staying in school as long as K and I did messes up the track a little. People at parties ask when we’re having babies, or buying a house, and my immediate gut feeling is “Ridiculous! We’re too young for that.” 30 didn’t seem like a big deal, either. Last night, after everyone was gone, I sobbed into my pillow, selfishly, as much for me as for my friend. When did we get old enough for life to be this hard?
Today I gave another, closer, friend a stack of our leftover moving boxes for her own move next month. I drove away from her house and wondered if I’ll see her again. Now that I’m within a few hour’s drive of my graduate school friends, they’re dispersing. This was just the first of many goodbyes to come; everyone I know will be finished within two years. I resent this progress with a kind of fierceness that surprises me.
I feel like literally outrunning the whole emotional mess, the inexorable movement of time. No sound but the wind in my ears and no feeling but the burn of my muscles. Which somehow, also, seems like the most selfish thing.