27, you worked so hard. What more can I say besides thank you?
I had the urging to read Crossroads today. It hadn’t hit me how fitting that was on this day, the last day I’ll be 27, until I was stewing in elderberry, lighting the candle I said I’d never burn. Crossroads was the illustrious, miserable, luminescent, hopeless cry for help and ballad of pure joy that best characterizes my 27th year.
I thought 26 would be my hardest-working year. I leveled my life and rebuilt. I laid the careful, delicate scaffolding for the world I can only inhabit now because of that painstaking work. 26 brought me so many returns it nearly burst my heart. And 27 worked just as hard to bring me, so completely, just one thing. But it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted.
My therapist says I need to do a better job of acknowledging the past versions of myself. So accustomed to being brave, they tend to linger with me like unsettled spirits waiting with begging hands for the credit they’re due. So here it goes: 27 held on long past the point of comfort. In moments when it would have been simpler and less painful to resign, 27 didn’t loosen its grip. At times when the door was slowly closing, 27 would whisper wait. 27 always stayed for just a moment longer. 27 was patient, and formidable, and strong, and graceful – endlessly graceful! – and flexible, and forgiving. So forgiving. The most challenging and freeing emotion. On this last day, I can see now that 27 was forgiveness. And yes, brave. 27 had to feel a lot of pain so that 28 will be able to feel with immensity the joy I’ve been afforded. 27 went through all the trials hell could spring to win the most worthy prize of all. I love my life, and I love my lover, and I love myself. The latter has been the hardest one to catch.
Last year, I wrote “I grew accustomed to the toil, I fed from the need for survival. Maybe in twenty seven, I find some place for myself in peace.” I can’t help but smile at it now, because as it turned out, I wrote the book on finding a place for yourself in peace. How charming, I had to write a whole novel to untangle it all. (SPOILER:) Perhaps there are no haunted places, only haunted people. Maybe we’ll never find peace, we’ll only make peace with ourselves. The book will be out next week, by the way, if you’d like to dive deeper into my headspace 😉
Anyway, my therapist thought it was charming too. You’re a writer, she said. Rewrite the narrative in your head. In moments when it’s natural for me to default to darkness, I choose love. I pour love over the open wounds in my soul and I watch how it changes things. In moments when I want to apologize, I find gratitude. 27 was also gratitude, grand amounts of wild-caught gratitude. When I dip my toes into the warm pool of the past, I refrain from submerging myself. It’s remarkable to me now how often I chose suffering because the only alternative was having faith. And faith means surrendering. So that’s 28. I’m surrendering.
I closed Crossroads as soon as I assumed the irony. I looked right into the flame of the candle, admittedly not my birthday candle, but I didn’t really make a wish. I said thank you as I blew it out. And I’m not just saying it because my therapist told me to. Thank you, thank you, thank you, holy shit, thank you. I am the happiest fucking girl on the planet and it’s because of you, 27.
And so I come to you, my successor, with humility, in the knowledge that all I hold dear today may burn down. That you may read these words on the eve of twenty eight and think I’m a fool. I think the world of you. I really do. Thank you for being brave even when you were scared. Thank you for finding something to hold on to in ugly rock faces. Thank you for everything you did for me. I know you didn’t have to.
So maybe I found some place for myself in peace, at the eleventh hour, in 27. And the ghosts I unwittingly carried can find peace for themselves, too. I realized not long ago that I carry around a lot of live ammo I don’t need anymore, and I’m putting up my hands. I surrender to you, 28.