Marking time in my life has been done by the most subjective of measures. Childhood marked by holidays, shared custody arrangements, tree climbing, summer camps, and grand adventures. In my teens, it was marked by the changing school year. And, oh yea, puberty. College marked by semesters. My first ‘entry-level’ jobs marked by miniscule pay raises. But my 20’s have been something else entirely. So far there have been about four or five consistent threads running through my 20’s. Yo-yo debt, job/career changes, travel, dancing, and weddings. Lots of weddings.
Fortunately for me and my wallet, I have not had to be in a lot of weddings (can’t afford it anyway), but I’ve been to plenty. Recently two wonderful friends finally got hitched. I say “finally” because I’ve been looking forward to this for a year or more, since shortly after I first met them both. They’re wonderful with and for each other, and seeing that kind of love is inspiring to me. It makes me wish and wonder for that kind of love for myself.
I don’t usually enjoy weddings for their own sake. Due to a lack of sisters or close female friends, I am that rare North American creature who never once dreamed what her wedding would be like. Never played Bride with my dolls, never picked out flowers or thought about a dress. So weddings never send me into a comparative tizzy over what I liked/didn’t like/wouldn’t do/etc. In that, I am largely alone, having almost never met a female who feels even remotely the same way. But love- ah, love! Now there is a dream I can get behind…
One side effect of weddings is apparently babies. Now I know it doesn’t take a wedding for that, but there’s more pomp and joy around a socially-sanctioned reproduction, so many of my high school friends who are now starting the next generation with full legal protections are slathering Facebook with pictures of their prodgeny. So the later half of my 20’s are being marked by the weekly announcement of some new impending arrival. I’m not saying anything new- I’d imagine this is the life stage many of my friends in their 20’s find themselves in. The surrealness of it fades quickly, replaced by many emotions, not the least of which is a nagging worry that somewhere inside me, eggs are whithering. (On the other hand, when I sit on a plane for five hours, listening to an infant shriek and shrill as it sees fit, piercing the ears of those nearby, my eggs simply try to escape via a back door somewhere. My confidence in my fertility stems from the sincere belief that they have yet to actually find one such door.)
On a related note, working in elementary and middle schools provides an interesting lens for viewing the fertility of my fellow 20-something cohorts. Whenever I substitute at an elementary school, there are several teachers who are fully preggers…to the point of waddling. The elementary children are used to it. They likely think it is a consequence of being around them…teachers just get pregnant. And I think it likely is…being around all those adorable little kids likely makes all the recently married and economically semi-stable want to start that family they’ve been dreaming of…but that’s in elementary school. When they’re cute.
Middle school is totally different. I’ve seen one pregnant teacher in a middle school. Everyone else is of a decidedly older age-grouping (30s to 60s mostly), and is around teenagers enough that their reporductive days are now behind them. Not because they are past their prime. Oh no. Marines could learn a thing or two about stamina, battle tactics and survival from middle school teachers. No, these teachers are done with reproduction because spending 8-10 hours a day around hormones like that makes you not want to breed. Ever.
But I digress.
Babies, weddings, job-hopping, travel…signs of my 20s. With my current situation, babies are going to mark my 30s, if at all, and job hopping and travel are the only things likely to happen until then. I would be quite happy to mark the end of my 20s with a lottery win or a ridiculously over-paying job…