Highlights of the 20s and decisions moving into my 30s

I was cleaning the house in advance of our trip tomorrow, and ruminating on my 20s. I hate when people do this kind of thing, but you only turn 30 once, so what the heck? I'm going to embrace my sentimentality and nostalgia, and recount some of the best things that happened in my 20s - as much for my own edification as yours. I didn't think I would do almost any of this growing up in a poor small town in the country, and I have to admit that it was a damn good decade by all accounts. I've been lucky, so feel free to tell me to shut up if you hear me whining.

I started out the decade at 20 as a sophomore at a Christian college, wiping grease off of dishes in the grill and serving as the trash boy in the cafeteria.

At 21 I spent a month traveling in Australia with Angel, where we snorkeled on the the Great Barrier Reef, saw Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter (God rest his soul) in his natural habitat, visited Uluru, sat on the steps of the Sydney Opera House on a warm winter night, hung out with international travelers and dingos on an island made entirely of sand, and generally had a transformative kind of experience.

At 22 I graduated from college and got married to a woman who I genuinely love and couldn't be happier with, and who has made possible just about everything good that's happened since then.

At 23-24 we moved to New Zealand for two years and had the kind of experience that really makes your life feel complete. While we were there:

-I left behind my religious tradition and became an Anglican.

-I learned to drive on the left side of the road.

-I got my first 'real job'.

-We hung out on a beach with some of the rarest penguins in the world.

-We got into tramping and hiked 3 of New Zealand's Great Walks, plus lots of others.

-I drove a famous - and very tall - theologian to the airport in my tiny car and kept accidentally touching his knee when I was shifting gears.

-We heard (but didn't see) Kiwis in the wild.

-I worried for a month while Angel went to Banda Aceh to help with disaster relief a month after the Boxing Day Tsunami.

At 25:

-I decided to become a priest.

-I got a Masters degree.

-We moved back to the US and drove from Ohio to Seattle in a big ol' red van full of all of our possessions. We saw the Badlands, Yellowstone, the Black Hills, the Rockies, Montana...

-I got a job in a warehouse full of rock stars. The most notable outgrowth of this was eventually ending up backstage at a concert drinking Stereolab's PBR.

-We bought our first real estate, a small apartment in a hipper-than-thou neighborhood in Seattle.

-We made friends with half of Seattle's queer population and got confirmed as Episcopalians. The two aren't unrelated.

At 26:

-We fully renovated our apartment.

-I got my second 'real job'.

-Angel got into her first Masters program.

At 27:

-I found out how hard it is to have a 'real job' in youth ministry.

-I led a trip to New Orleans with a group of teenagers, to do disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina.

-We went to the Canadian Rockies for two weeks and hung out in Banff National Park. We'd planned to go to Glacier in Montana, but when we got there it was on fire.

At 28:

-I got my second real job and spent the year working with people living with AIDS.

-I got laid off from a job for the first time.

-Angel got into her second Masters program, and completed her first Masters degree.

-We saw a bear in the wild for the first time.

-We went to Hawaii, and I presided at my cousin's wedding on a beach on Kauai. While we were there we thought we were going to die on the Kalalau Trail. Not at the wedding, but on the same trip.

At 29:

-I got my third real job and got to hobnob with a bunch of famous Episcopalians: Phylis Tickle, Sara Miles, Don Schell, Katherine Jefferts Schori...

-I was accepted as a postulant for priesthood, which basically means that the diocese said I could be a priest, eventually.

-Angel got her second Masters degree.

-We spent two weeks traveling around the Pacific Northwest from Victoria, BC to Ashland, Oregon, including a backpacking trip in the Olympic Mountains.

-I headed up organization for a benefit concert that featured a dude from a band that will probably be famous.

-I decided that I don't want to be a priest.

-I got a significant portion of a first book finished. (It's a memoir, granted, but still something I've always wanted to do...)

-We started training for our first triathlon.

Along the way we've made a lot of great friends all over the world, and have kept great relationships with our families.

As much as I complain, I really have had a rich life so far. I didn't make my first million, but the 20s treated me well.

Our trip to Mexico tomorrow will mark the entrance to our 30's. You might know that this is genuinely a transition point for me. I'm not only becoming certifiably middle-aged, I'm also making a career shift, and my relationship to the church and religion is changing. I haven't talked with many people about this yet, but when we get back my plan is to begin taking steps towards becoming a poor man's Albert Schweitzer. Sometime around Summer I'll start taking classes part time with the eventual goal of becoming a nurse. I'll start by completing the (modest) requirements to become a Nursing Assistant, wiping butts and cleaning up puke, and will work my way up across the next few years. The religious side of my life will take a different form - I'll keep writing, I'm sure - and will definitely be channeled into a different occupation. Details are to be sorted out, but I'm sure enough that this is my new direction that I'm willing to announce it to the blogosphere. I'm excited about the possibilities and looking forward to the next steps that will shape life in my 30s. More details to come. I'll talk to you when we get back!


Ruth Vest said…
that was awesome to read tim, you guys have a great life. congrats on the 30th-have fun, be safe!
Karyn said…
Hope you guys have an amazing trip :) Welcome to 30!!! I think it is gonna be an amazing adventure for you! Love you and Angel both!
Adventure Mom said…
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