One of my best friends turned 30 this week. I am not 30. I am 30-adjacent. I'm next.
My mother, Frances, likes to joke (or maybe it's something more sinister) that I am now the exact age she was when she was pregnant with me. I laugh at this because 1) it's true and 2) it seems ridiculous. It's as if our adult lives have finally overlapped. It's a funny feeling this folding of time sort of like waking a sleeping limb: numbness followed by an un-enjoyable tingling.
Perhaps that's why your 30th year is supposed to be so dirty. Maybe we have so much built up ''successful'' tension clogging up the pipes to the rest of our lives that we need an entire year to get grimy with the necessary business of cleaning out those impossible standards we set for ourselves at this age: corner office, capable husband, cute kids. Unlike one's hopeful 21st birthday party, the Dirty Thirty is a chance to scream, ''Woo hoo, you're old, bitch!'' at a crowd of 20-somethings too busy belting out Beyoncé lyrics to care that they were next. According to Sex and the City, my 30s are going to totally rock. But then again I saw the movie, and those chicks looked wrinkly as hell.
Despite all that, I'm pretty hyped about another rite of passage that requires little more from me than to stay alive for the next couple of months. By then, the rest of my ''triumvirate'' (the three women who know me best on earth) will also have made the involuntary journey across decades. Coming of age is cool and all, but what happens when there are no more road signs? No more milestones? That's what's scary about 30, I think. The idea that one's greatest greeting card is behind them.
I just finished Justin Halpern's collection of hilarious personal essays that the publishing industry can do nothing besides call a memoir, Sh*t My Dad Says. The book is either a 158-page Father's Day card, a coming-of-age tale told backwards or just plain good. Halpern, 29, after ending the lease on his Los Angeles apartment, drove down to San Diego to tell his long-term girlfriend the good news: Now we can be together all the time! She ended things with him, right then, on her doorstep. He ended up back with his parents, hanging with his 74-year-old dad. Sad story? Sort of.
A writer for Maxim, Halpern spent his downtime writing down the ''shit'' his dad, Sam, said and logging everything on a Twitter account called, what else, @shitmydadsays. The elder Halpern—Army vet, retired doctor, former Little League coach—proved to be a micro-blogging gold mine with gems like theses: ''Humans will die out. We're weak. Dinosaurs survived on rotten flesh. You got diarrhea last week from a Wendy's,'' ''Stop trying so hard. He doesn't like you. Jesus, don't kiss an ass if it's in the process of shitting on you,'' and ''A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize, but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed.''
I should start my own Twitter hashtag, #shittheOraclesays. That would be my friend who just turned the big 3-0. I call her the Oracle behind her back (and in my book) because most of the things she says make me feel dumb because of how simply she makes sense.
See? I just spent a few hours combing through old conversations because her wisdom is fortune cookie-worthy. Also, because we don't talk as much. Thirty can do something else to you besides freak you out. It can shift more things than your bra size. It can make you re-prioritize. Not that friendships aren't important. They are. And some friendships deserve extra care and handling. Because we all should have someone who can drop these pearls of wisdom when you're debating whether or not to have ''the talk'' with a beau:
''Clearly you need to bring everything up unless you're just doing the 'keep your head in the sand' routine of which I'm familiar. That always seems like a good plan to you until the shit caves in.''
Well that's a friendship that survives 30.