That is to say, in early December, I finally turned the age that I spent most of my teens wishing I was. That was always the plan – be thirty, have a job, have a house, have a wife, possibly have kids. My entire expectation of my future lifestyle was based on my home life as a child, and in a sense it was perhaps more of an ambition than an expectation – I decided from a very early age that if I could do as well as my dad, then I’d be doing well.
And I’m there, more or less. I mean, the turning thirty part is roughly inevitable if you can just avoid death for long enough, but the other stuff is about right. The only significant missing details are that I don’t yet have children (which isn’t a problem) and that I leave the house two hours earlier every day than he did (see, in my expectations, I figured I might actually see other members of my family before leaving for work, which is a stretching target when you get out of the door at 5:30am each day).
But anyway, about the actual day itself.. It was basically a day of deception, in which I believed the plan to be that my mother in law would pop over and drop something off, and then Naomi and I would go to Bird World (in spite of the fact that it has limited opening at that time of year), to the extent that I was busy memorising the route when my mother and siblings showed up at the door. I hadn’t been expecting to see them until the weekend, so it was an awesome surprise (arranged by Naomi behind my back).. Then my mother in law turned up, and the six of us went for a delicious lunch in Worplesdon. It was around this time that I twigged that we wouldn’t in fact be going to Bird World at all – not a crushing blow, simply a lingering confusion in my head for the rest of the day as I retained this feeling that I wasn’t where I had expected I would be.
See, that feeling is a weird one. The sense that “I was meant to be doing something else”. It’s very specifically not a feeling I have about my own life, and the absence of such a nagging doubt is actually a wonderful feeling in itself. I had to go back through my journal a bit to check that I hadn’t just forgotten about something I was meant to be doing, and whilst I did find a reference to an ambition to visit every continent on the planet by the time I hit thirty, otherwise everything’s fairly consistent with this being where I aimed to be.
On the subject of travel, in my condescending way I’m rather glad that I didn’t naff off around the world after uni. Firstly, I don’t think I would have liked it – I’m not sure that I was really ready to fully appreciate the significance of what I would have seen, and wouldn’t like to gamble on developing that appreciation along the way. But more than that, it would only serve to delay the other plans – the get a job, get a house, grow up, settle down, that type of plan. The amount of work I would need to do in advance in order to afford to visit every continent in the space of the nine years post university would mean constant in/out of work, no stability, a perpetual repetition of a pattern. Whereas if I now aspire to do those things before I’m 40 (or older), I’m in a much better position not only to finance them, but to share them with someone special.
Which brings me to Naomi. It’s worth mentioning, for the record and because I seldom do online, that I made one hell of a great choice there. Beautiful, smart, passionate, and hilariously funny in both intentional and unintentional ways, when I look back over my twenties she was easily the best thing to come out of them. Or indeed my teens, if we want to scrape the barrel. When I look back over my “love life”, it’s quite clear that from the very start Naomi held the title of “Girl most likely to be the object of a desire to settle down with”, among various other desires which won’t get an airing here. She was always and immediately what I was looking for, and I couldn’t be happier to be with her.
I think that every now and then, she suggests (whether in jest or otherwise) that on some levels I see her as a means to an end, the modus by which my teenage ambition to be thirty and settled down is achieved. I can see her point, it doesn’t look good for me in that respect, but she has it basically backwards. It’s being with her that ensures that my ambition remains unchanged from that time. She is the reason why I’m able to consider settling down with her and building a life together as being worthy of its description as an “ambition” rather than simply an expectation. Her role is not simply to complete an arbitrary set of requirements, it’s to bring to life the very reason for having aspired to that as a future in the first place.
So all in all, I’m very happy to be thirty. Mission accomplished. I own a house, one I quite like in spite of it not being the size I’d perhaps like, and in spite of my abject failure to do enough with it as yet. I have a job that I love, that as of a few months ago actually stretches me, forces me to think more and develops skills that I’d let deteriorate. I have a wonderful wife, whose own ambitions are a little less simple than mine and whose drive to achieve them drags me along with it. Basically, I have a life that I know that I would have been proud of at any point in my teens or twenties, and the peace of mind therein is a great feeling to have.
Goals for the next ten years:
- Visit those continents I have not yet visited (Asia, Oceania, South America, Antarctica)
- Voyage into Space
- Start a family whilst maintaining a work schedule that allows me to see them in the morning
- Make a contribution to the world of which I can be proud, and which will outlast me
Any one of those will do. Clean sweep would be ace.