Belated Birthday Obituary

Obituary — My 20s

A Twitter friend had a funeral for her 20s— when she turned 30, she had a full on ceremony in Cancun, wearing an elegant black veil and swimsuit coverup, dumping ashes into the ocean. The spectacle was as dramatic and extra as one could hope. As I make my own transition into a new decade, I offer you an obituary of sorts, with lessons learned and celebratory moments.

My early 20s were dedicated to establishing myself in my career and finding my people. I sought out community in the gayborhoods of Chicago and Seattle. When I wasn’t working or home, I was globetrotting. I went to professional networking events and have met some incredible people in aviation. Life was pretty good for awhile.

And then the most tumultuous period later in this decade has been the pandemic. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but I lost my job due to my own mistakes, and I was thrust into an especially volatile time for my beloved industry. I didn’t think I’d fly again, given the projections of what the virus was doing to travel. I was extended an olive branch to get back into the game after nine months of despair. I’m thankful for that experience in charter, seeing a side of aviation that I never expected— or desired to see.

But now, across the board, I’m doing pretty not bad. I’m in class at a cargo carrier based in Miami, learning my all time favorite airplane, the Boeing 757 (and the formidable 767!). I’m ready to get back in the world again!

A bad bitch strikes a pose in a Rolls Royce

I didn’t think I’d make it— not in some pitiful way. It just never occurred to me that I’d be here, at 30. From a young queer growing up in Mid Missouri, blithely unaware of how lower middle class we were, I did not expect to occupy the spaces I’ve had the pleasure of gliding through. When I’ve met celebrities or simply sat in Business class crossing an ocean, I get a bit of Imposter Syndrome like I’m not worthy of the situation. But mostly, when I find myself in an incredible moment, I find it absurd, because people like me usually don’t get to experience such things, or it’s a once-in-a-lifetime. But it is, and I am, making my own glorious space. In some ways, I feel like I haven’t done anything in the previous 30 years, but factually this is untrue. I became an Airline Transport Pilot. I’m a Registered Yoga Teacher. I’ve been to nearly every continent, hiking volcanoes and diving with sharks.

This existence wouldn’t be possible without the Greatest Mommy in the Whole Wide World whose unconditional love has carried me when I didn’t think I deserved it— and the additional, otherworldly love that comes from my best friend Kate, who is more sibling than friend and certainly family.

And you, dear reader, who no doubt plays a part in shaping my world. I’m blessed to have friends from all over, from all walks of life, virtual friendships to In Real Life. We are all connected in some way or another.

My 20s are survived by many lessons learned, but not near enough. How I can only affectionately call my sordid romantic history is that I certainly was “fun loving” and a stranger to few who wanted to take part. My regrets are few, but I’ve learned that I need to be careful to whom I allow access of my body and spirit.

But the most invaluable lesson happened when I ended my first tried and true relationship. The aftermath, in which I’m still rumbling months later, is a battle within. We enjoyed a brief but brilliant long-distance relationship, wherein he taught me intimacy and compassion; he loved me at a time when I certainly didn’t love myself, nor did I think I could deserve it. In turn, though, I brought my full self to the table and loved him fully, but I also knew when to let go— I don’t give myself enough credit for that. Some people string along their partners or remain in situationships for mere companionship, but it ultimately hurts more in the long term. Many years ago, an esteemed mentor told me, “You’ll have your heart broken, but you’ll break some hearts, too.” I didn’t believe him until now. I can only hope I did it as gently and with as much integrity as I could.

If I could surmise the previous decade as an era of cultivating intimacy, I hope my 30s are about finding commitment— to myself, foremost, but to larger areas of life. I’m not concerned with “finding” a relationship as I once was. I’m more interested developing myself, and whoever wants to come on that journey is more than welcome. Despite having done some things, I still have unchecked boxes: projects and passions that remain in the ether. As I become stronger in mind and body, garnering the inevitable wisdom that comes from time, I can only tell you that I’m feeling optimistic about what’s to come. I don’t mean that in a cheesy way (though I am cheesy), but part of the magic of aging is cutting through the bullshit and finding direct and lasting joy.

I was blessed to spend a last minute birthday bash with one of my best friends and damn near birthday twin in Key West. Cole and I had a blast at an all-gay resort where we let our hair down. On my day, it couldn’t have been better: I scheduled a two hour massage and body scrub, followed by a kundalini yoga class. As the well wishes poured in at dinner, I teared up no less than three times from all the love I felt from y’all. We met some fabulous people on the island— I’m generally not a fan of Florida, but there’s a kindness there that emanates from their unofficial motto: One Human Family.

And now, I’ve retreated to my cousin’s place outside Stockholm, Sweden, where she’s graciously let me squat during a break from work. I’ll have more on this experience soon, because I think I’m finally emerging from my flop era and moving into a more meaningful existence.

In lieu of flowers for my 20s, please donate to any cause that is near to your heart (so long as it doesn’t undermine or disenfranchise any previous progress the world has made). My favorite organization is Sisters of the Skies should you choose to make a donation in my honor.

In the wise words of Lizzo’s new song, a fellow Taurus, “I got a feelin’ I’m gon’ be ok…It’s about damn time.”

Soundtrack: Lizzo – “About Damn Time”

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