As I explained here, I’m turning 29 next month. Folks who pay attention to astrology keep telling me that this has been the year when “Saturn returned” and I’ve become an adult. Whether that’s true or not, I figured this was as good an excuse as any to reach out to people I know and love, learn about transitions they experienced around my age (even if they’re not very far from my age now!), and hopefully giving them an excuse for a few minutes of reflection.
Today we hear from Kara, my friend and former coworker. In addition to embodying all of the best things “human resources” can be, Kara is an aspiring DIYer with an affinity for power tools, recently blew the dust off of her sewing machine, and is delighted that her penchant for marathon and triathlon racing is rubbing off on her kids (well, at least they’re willing to show up for family fun runs with her).
Julia: Does the term “Saturn returns” mean anything to you?
Kara: Nope. But when I looked it up, I got excited that I (hopefully) will turn 56 one day (1/5/2033)! In retrospect, applying the “Saturn returns” theory to my 28th year is in alignment, but I wouldn’t call that a bullet proof astrological occurance. Change and growth are constant.
J: Where were you when you turned 28?
K: I was living in New York City. It was a pretty grand moment in time, actually, as I had just gotten engaged a few months earlier and was in the midst of wedding planning. I was also delving deep into yoga – for all the right reasons? wrong reasons? Who knows, but I was the best shape of my life and loved having a refuge of quiet to escape to that still fed my innate need to have physical challenges. And it was awesome that my fiance shared in it, too.
In some ways, I was embarking on one of the public milestones we have in society that marks a passage of time. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that marriage ultimately establishes some level of maturity or adult-ness, but I definitely felt like it was marking a very thoughtful and reprecussions-laced decision, though I didn’t quite feel like it established my arrival into adulthood. I was really more psyched that the transitory nature of my 20′s (locations, jobs, relationships) would at least be slowing down a bit.
What strikes most about that year is that it turned out to be nothing like I had ever imagined. I had been in NYC six years when I thought I’d only be there for one. I never anticipated that the quiet of yoga was where I would draw so much energy and strength (of all varieties) having been an externally competitive sport-y person earlier. I was planning an inter-faith wedding after only having ever been to Catholic ceremonies. That my fiance and I would trade in a spacious studio for a 375 square foot one-bedroom. Location, baby! It was like I kept surprising myself when I had a moment to step back and look at my life as a whole instead of in the dizzying maze of details. That was kind of awesome – then and now.
J: What are one or two or three things you remember from the year or so surrounding that birthday?
K: It was a year of milestones so it’s hard to forget. Yet, even with all of these big events, there is a moment that sticks in my head pretty vividly. It was the evening my fiance and I, hunched over his little Dell desktop computer, wrote out the first draft of our wedding ceremony. I loved how, regardless of all the wedding details, we both wanted the ceremony to be the heart of it all. I loved how we pushed and pulled with ideas, trying to find ways to bring to life our values and convey the essence of what our love is/was. It was the kind of night that you can’t ever plan for but in the end was completely and utterly awesome.
The wedding planning with all of its twists and turns led to a wedding which, 7 weeks later, led to me waking up one morning wondering why I suddenly was repulsed by one of my favorite foods (peanut butter) and why seemingly overnight I had developed boobs that were making my husband do double takes when he looked my way.
While I have always wanted kids, I never thought the stars would align at the time that they did. I am thankful, grateful, sometimes still overwhelmed by how everything came together.
So a year earlier I may have been fretting about wedding invitation paper colors, but on the eve of my 29th birthday, I was trying to wrap my head around how two lines on a little stick meant that I was now responsible for another human being.
So in retrospect, Saturn returned in a big way. Interestingly, I still didn’t feel like an “adult.” I felt more like a kid masquerading in a grown-up world.
J: Do you feel close to those memories, or far from them?
K: At 7.5 years post-28th birthday, it’s a mixed bag.
There are moments now between my husband and I that recall those butterflies — the ones I had when we were engaged and everything seemed so glow-y — nudging them from their hibernation in our day-to-day routine that bring me right back.
At other times, I recall how my self-esteem wavered about minor decisions (“do I need to make a seating chart for the rehearsal dinner?” I didn’t, by the way, and everyone survived – shocking!). Those types of things seem frivolous in comparison to my current and constant re-evaluation mode of how my parenting is going to land my children in therapy in 20 years (just in time for my 56th birthday)!
J: Do you have any advice for someone going through this (supposedly) astrologically tumultuous time?
K: Find a way remember or capture/document it. Take gentle care with the relationships that matter most to you. There is much to learn – in the moment and well after.
P.S. This interview prompted me to read my journal entries from around this time. I got a good laugh, an ego boost and a dose of humility. Thanks for the reminders!
Kara, you are a gem. Thank you for time traveling with me.
Photos: The image of Kara, circa 2005, is by Brian Altman. I took the NYC skyline photo in April 2010.