The only thing that comes to mind whenever someone tells me to act my own age has always been, "Whatever, I'll continue to act young until I hit 30."
Well, my 30th birthday is in two weeks, and I'm both cautiously optimistic and wildly skeptical. I'm happy to be turning the age I always considered to be the pinnacle of adulthood, the age where my friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances all start treating me like a man of wisdom instead of a child of substance.
The problem for me is that I feel I matured at the strangest time in my life. At some point, I wound up in Lassen County, trying to pursue all the things I thought a man my age should want. Starting a family, buying a home, paying a mortgage, trying to fit into my community. The sort of lifestyle I would think people would come to expect from someone my - gulp - age.
The truth of the matter is I don't know what I want, and I'm not sure defining what I want by my age is going to help the matter any. I'm in this weird half-between state where I want both the goals of adulthood and the comforts of youth.
So I have put together a list of five things I want now that I'm turning 30 and a list of five things I think I'll say goodbye to because I'm 30. Does this mean I'm going to get what I want? Probably not, but this is an opinion piece about my life in Susanville, of which I may or may not be considered a local (based on the myriad responses I have received in the past).
So sit back and enjoy, and if you are near my age or remember what it's like to be my age or even if you're still a few years away, maybe this list is something you can all relate to. And if you think this is a self-serving, selfish piece about my personal life and why should anyone care, just remember: I'm 30. We'll start with what I want because I'm older:
1. I want a house. Because I feel like I'm too old to live in an apartment anymore. I know there are plenty of homes that are both affordable and in nice neighborhoods. I would like one. But since this desire is already firmly rooted in fantasy, I'd like to add that I want a million dollars, a sweet sports car and a woman with at least four teeth. It's OK, my imaginary girlfriend won't be jealous.
2. I want a new car. Hey, I love my Honda, but it hardly feels like an adult should be driving that thing. I need something sleek and stylish, something that says, "This man commands performance, respect and dignity." Something like my current Honda, but maybe two years newer. Used, of course.
3. I want to be treated like an adult. I think I'm fairly mature for my age, and yet I keep getting the feeling that the older folks in the county still see me as a snot-nosed punk. Ask anybody I know: I'm really an old man trapped in a 30-year-old's body. So quit hogging all the Centrum Silver and warm milk and let me get in on that bingo-loving action. I love bingo.
4. I want to use big words to make me feel important all the time. Salubrious, superfluous, exasperated, soliloquy, colloquialism, Venetian, Sarsaparilla; As an adult, I want to figure out the perfect sentence to get in all those words. Wait, I think I just did! Scratch this one off the list.
5. I want my opinion to be taken seriously. I want everyone to realize that I'm not just the Lassen County Times laughing boy and start realizing my insight into the world really matters. For example, here's my humble political opinion: I hate politics. I can't wait until we can vote in crayon.
On second thought, disregard my opinion.
Now here's my list of things to say goodbye too:
1. Being treated like a child. Let's face it, there's always going to be at least one person in this town who's going to see me shuffling down the street and assume I'm just another punk kid. But now, hopefully that won't happen as much. Did you children in this town get the police called on them just for carrying a skateboard down the street? Which brings me to my next point...
2. Being part of the age group that gets the police called on it. Hey you kids, get off my lawn! I finally understand the appeal of keeping a meticulously groomed piece of landscaped grass as meticulously groomed as possible. I will defend that lawn with my life, so carry your skateboard onto the other side of the street while I call the police. Darn kids with their music ...
3. Being asked to "chill out" all the time. Chronologically speaking, I'm more "chilled out" now than I was 10 years ago, so if I'm still not chill enough, deal with it. It's not changing at this point.
4. Not being old enough to participate in things. When you're a child, it's height requirements. When you're a teenager, it's tattoos and voting (respectively). Then it's getting to the legal drinking age. After that, you need to be 25 in order to rent a car. Technically, that was the last age requirement, so I guess I'm good. Oh wait, now I have to wait until I'm old enough for the senior menu at restaurants and the senior discount at movie theaters. Hmph. I never get to have any fun.
5. The only other thing I want to say goodbye to is the expectations I had in my 20s. I'll be honest, folks - when I was 22, I had never even heard of Susanville or Lassen County. I just knew I wanted to conquer the world with my writing skills. Years later, I've adjusted my goals in life to be more realistic, but no less ambitious. I never thought I'd end up here, but I'm certainly glad I did. I'm proud to turn 30 in this town, surrounded by the people who care, rather than anywhere else, local or not.