When I turned thirty, I looked around at my life and did what most people who turn thirty do, I freaked the frick out! This was not where I thought I’d be at thirty. What had I been doing the last thirty years, just watching the clock tick by? Younger me always imagined it very differently. I was supposed to have a kid named Oliver/Olivia by now, another one on the way, a lovely wife who was also my best friend and preferably a doctor, a dog (okay, phew! I had the dog), a successful career as a punny comedian, (and a real job that would pay our bills until I retired), a retirement account that actually made it look like I could retire some day, and an adorable and charming house. How far off from this dream was I? Let me set the scene for you.
On the morning of my thirtieth birthday I awoke with a hangover, a final gift from my 20s. I peeled a reese’s peanut butter cup wrapper from my cheek and I lifted myself off the couch of my first floor two-bedroom apartment, located in the same neighborhood I lived in while I went to college. I got up and found a pair of pants on the floor, gave them the sniff test and put them on upon their passing. I went into the kitchen to discover I was out of coffee. I called my dog (an adorable, I mean ADORABLE, nine-year old pit mix named Hazel) and even she looked at me with judgment. We went for a walk and then I remembered it was a Wednesday and I needed to be at work in roughly 20 minutes. I did my whole morning routine in record time. I then bundled up in all the layers I could, because, it was winter in Michigan and turning thirty had made me freak out about my health. In response, I had vowed to walk to work more–no matter the weather. (According to 29 year old me, walking 5 blocks to work would undo the damage that my nightly beer/wine/whisky drinking and poor eating habits were doing to my internal organs.)
Later that night I sat down with myself and got real honest about where I was in life. The majority of my friends had gotten married and had kids–like on purpose. In my twenties some of my friends had kids, but not as part of some big life plan, just as a “crap, we should have used a condom, but now we have this surprise bundle of joy” kind of way. But now it felt like everyone around me was having a baby, just had a baby, or doing whatever one does to get ready to have a baby. As I poured myself another bourbon, I wrote past me a letter. (I know you’re supposed to write letters to your future self, but give me a break.)
Dear 20-year old Jay,
‘Sup?! (Nope, that’s not still cool slang, you just turned 30 and are pathetically trying to reclaim some of your youth.) Time flies, your dad warned you about that, and now your warning yourself, because you are becoming your father. Except less put together than your father. I am you, but ten years older. I’d say wiser, but it seems you’ve spent the last 10 years just making the same mistakes over and over again. Turns out you do not get the girl. She marries a guy named Tyler (who she cheats on you with) and they have a baby. Get this, the baby announcement is the two of them in a pumpkin patch holding a pumpkin over her midsection. Yeah, talk about patchy announcements. (ha ha..pumpkin patch) Don’t worry, you’re not bitter—it’s actually for the best. Oh and you do not make it big as a comedian from your punny facebook status updates (which is just dumb that you even think that is possible). You do have great friends, and a pretty awesome job—it’s not the one you planned for yourself. But, you do love it and you’re lucky to have it, plus you’re not too bad at it. Pro-tip, maybe don’t be so afraid of going for the things you want in life. I’ve had a couple bourbons and I think I’m about to have a quarterlife crisis, but you should still listen to me. I think if you stopped holding yourself back, trusted your gut, and played the part of the door instead of the doormat, you would wake up one day and have the girl, have the family, have the house, and whatever else you wanted. But not that motorcycle, a) you’re way too accident-prone. b) Dad would kill you.
P.S. Put some money in your retirement fund…well first open up a retirement fund.
After a few google searches, I discovered you could not send mail back in time, even with extra postage. I’d like to point out that I am not the first or only person to google this because there were answers on the internet. (get it together, world) So I did what any reasonable person would do when facing a quarterlife crisis, I started looking at houses for sale. And through the home buying process I found out that buying a house is a lot like dating.
Buying a house is like dating, Part One:
You find a house/person and it’s love at first sight. You see a future with it/them and you catch yourself thinking about it/them throughout your day. You put an offer/yourself out there and you wait, anxiously to hear their response. And then you get your heart broken. You don’t think you’ll ever find a house/person like it/them again. You have to just push yourself to get back out there, to move on. Late one night after some wine you find yourself on zillow/tinder looking for a new house/person. And you do. You find one, it/they are not as great as the house/person who broke your heart, but it/they are nice enough. So you go to a viewing/coffee, check out the house/person and you know you can’t see yourself in this house/with this person like you could with the house/person who broke your heart. It/they just don’t have the same special something, but it reminds you there are other good houses/people in the world that with the right timing/location/square footage/charm could make you happy.
Buying a house is like dating, Part Two:
You will find many houses/people who catch your eye. Upon further exploration you will realize that some of these houses/people are just not right for you and you will part ways. Sometimes a house/person will take your breath away and you will open yourself up to the possibility of a future with it/them. Despite your adoration of it/them, something will happen that prevents building a future. It’ll hurt and you’ll wonder why it didn’t work out with it/them. You will grab a drink (or two) with a friend and begin feeling better, maybe even start to believe things happen for a reason. Then one day, just when you’ve given up, your realtor/friend will call to tell you they know a house/mutual friend which/who would be perfect for you. You will nervously schedule a showing/date, fingers crossed that this will be the one. It/They have the qualities you’ve been searching for in a home/significant other. You don’t want to come off too excited though, so you try to hide your giddiness. In an attempt to come off cool and collected, you casually tell your realtor/friend that you’d like to make an offer/see the mutual friend again. Then you wait, looking at your phone every few minutes to see if your realtor/friend has any news for you. The longest 24 hours of your life passes and your realtor/friend tells you that the seller/mutual friend said yes to your offer/second date. You start the stressful process of getting a home mortgage/getting to know one another. You try to show your best sides to impress the loan officer/crush. After several weeks of paperwork/dates you both realize you’re on the same page. You decide to go official with a title and a 30 year fixed rate commitment. You have found the one. And it/they have the key to your heart…and you have a key (and a garage door opener) to their heart/door.
Buying a house is like dating, Part Three:
After you buy your house/meet your partner and move into the house/with the person you fell in love with you will feel a rush of excitement, like nothing could be better. This is the first day of the rest of your happy life together. Every square inch of your house/partner is perfect. The flaws (the very few it/they even have) are endearing. That tacky border in the kitchen/their habit of talking to themselves all day long? Charming! And then time will go by and one day you wake up and the honeymoon phase comes to a crashing halt. This might come in the form of a giant puddle of water (more like a small pond) in your basement after the first hard rainstorm in your new house/your partner leaving a pile (more like a mountain) of dishes in the sink…again! And suddenly the house/partner is no longer perfect and not every flaw is so adorable. But you take a few breaths and remember all the reasons you fell in love with this house/person. You realize nothing/nobody is perfect, but some houses/people are still worth sticking with and fixing the broken things. So, you get a towel/sponge and you clean up the puddle/pile of dishes.
Buying a house is like dating, Part Four:
You are in love with your new house/significant other. Things feel normal and right, like you’re home. Even so, there will be moments you find yourself inexplicably reflecting on your past. One day brings back a wave of familiarity you haven’t felt in awhile and you drive on autopilot to your old house/you call your new love your ex’s name. You don’t know why you did that because you love your new house/significant other and you have no feelings for the old house/ex. You closed that door. But memories are not like feelings. Memories can pop up for no apparent reason and cause us to take a drive (literally) down memory lane. It’s normal. But we will few guilty and apologize to the new house/ significant other. And swear it’ll never happen again. You might never accidentally drive to the old house/call your love your ex’s name, but those memories might sneak into your thoughts now and again. Because even though you moved on, to better things that fit your needs more, you still had great years and experiences in your old house/with your ex.
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