Today, I had this imaginary conversation in my head with a room full of people who were my same twenty-eight years of age. I imagined men and women discussing how it felt when they watched their high school sweetheart make their way down the aisle or held their first child in their hands. I thought of people who’d served in the armed forces and been overseas. Or some who had taken over the family business. I thought of people who’d invested in their first homes. Or someone who had recently got a promotion.
And I wondered what I would add to this conversation.
What’s been that “thing” in my twenties? My own personal culmination of an experience I’d choose to mark this decade since graduating from high school.
I’ve had several jobs, all of which I’ve learned and leap-frogged forward from. My cooking skills are limited to provide for a table of one. There’s been little romance, little connection.
So, what would be my “thing?”
I wish I could tell you that inspiration struck like a lightning bolt. That all of the sudden it just hit me and I knew what I would tell that imaginary group of almost-thirty-year-olds, passing around cold beers, a little grey along their widow’s peaks. But, the thing is, it was more subtle.
It was the time I’ve spent, wading knee deep in river water.
It was the emerald leaves and roughed bark I’ve learned to identify.
It was the quail in the backyard and the dragonflies in the summer and the whistle of teal in the fall.
It was discovering there is power in my hereditary roots, memorizing the hum of river bottom music. Learning, and failing, on the same acreage my predecessors worked with their own hands.
It’s finding joy in blackberry brambles and wind burnt cheeks after pecan picking and ripgut slicing open my ankles along the water’s edge.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in my twenties, it hasn’t been how to soothe a baby fighting sleep or how to neutralize a potential blowup with a husband. It hasn’t been how to invest thousands in the stock market or where the best places are to eat Thai food in the city.
I’ve learned who I am with stick-tights on my jeans and by asking Dad a million questions. I’ve learned when to pick lily pods to dry for decoration. I’ve learned what a beaver slide looks like. I’ve learned to love the weight of a 20 gauge against my shoulder.
I worry some days I’m failing. That I’m going to look back on these years and think: “Boy, I didn’t accomplish a damn thing in my twenties.” Some days I feel behind. Some days I still feel like a kid myself.
But then I remember each individual writes their own story. God is leading me down this particular path for a reason. And, it’s not like I’m not enjoying the hell out of it.