30

I didn’t expect 30 to actually happen.

I had a relaxing birthday. My new apartment complex has an outdoor pool and a jacuzzi, and reopened it that week (in my honor, I assume). It was warm and sunny, so I got to enjoy the bubbling hot water on my joints. It reminded me of the last time I was able to swim on my birthday; I was a small child in Florida, during a season of La Nina. I remember nothing about it other than it was so warm even I, a smol kid with Raynaud’s, could sit in a pool without freezing in February. It seemed fitting that memory would resurface.

V and I had a picnic at Middle Harbor Shoreline while being watched by a Port Authority park employee for eating just outside of the shaded-but-still-outdoor picnic area that was evidently closed. I saved a joint for my 30th so we left the ever watching eye of the park guard and sat on some rocks by the water in Jack London Square instead. I was in my brain a lot.

Later we played Jackbox.tv games with old and new friends, and I went to bed before midnight.

I found my post about turning 20 and gave it a read to remember where I was and what I was thinking about in 2011. I was just 2 years removed from my family, figuring out what it meant for me and my ex to be married when we didn’t fit the stereotypical suffocating molds we were conditioned to uphold and morph into if we were to be “successful.” I wanted to establish myself as my own person and not morph into the “Mrs.” identity I was expected to don; challenging the rules I was taught to uphold if I were to be a good helpmeet. 10 years ago I thought we would be together forever making art and short films and video games.

My parents estranged me for saying homeschooling isn’t for everyone a few months prior, but still I tried to hold the good things about being homeschooled with the gaps that were just starting to come to light.

I thought the wars we needlessly got into when I was 10 would be over soon. I was a sweet summer child. What an adventure lied ahead.

I thought my 30th would be lowkey and I was right about that, it’s kind of my party trademark now. If you’re looking for high energy and loud music party vibes that’s great but my parties have music at a level where conversations can still happen; They mostly involve being in a conversation pit or playing board (or virtual) games with good snacks and good drinks and good people. My parties are like a warm hug where you can forget about everything else for a while and just be. That’s what a birthday is anyway, the day you suddenly existed.

That’s what was lovely about my birthday this year too, just being. After a full year of global trauma I’m taking whatever moments I can to just exist.

I didn’t think I’d make it here.

Not just because the life expectancy for trans folks is much shorter than it is for cis people. After growing up being told the rapture was going to happen in my lifetime; threatened with it happening before I got married (to the extent that you can threaten these things – “hopefully the rapture comes before then.”); followed by a year of what my partially-memorized-the-book-of-Revelations-brain read as literally ALL OF THE SIGNS, getting to 2021 and to my birthday and to beyond just….didn’t seem realistic.

I was raised to be an arrow, to fight in the culture war until I was summoned up to heaven leaving only a neatly folded pile of clothes behind me. I didn’t realize how much that impacted me until I mentioned it in therapy a few weeks ago because my 30s feel like a blank slate now.

Like this scene, from my first End Times movie, Apocalypse: Caught in the Eye of the Storm (1988)

2020 was, in my formerly-indoctrinated opinion, as close as we’ve ever gotten to the signs pointing to the impending rapture and Armageddon as could possibly happen and…it didn’t happen. So. huh. I survived my 20s, I survived the deadliest pandemic in my lifetime, more and more of my friends are getting vaccines, and Jesus and his army haven’t arrived to destroy the world once and for all. All of the major signs that pointed to End Times in the future my parents had counted on, threatened me with, and encouraged us to look forward to happened.

There’s something cruel in teaching children that they must live every single moment as if it’s their last, and imploring them to do so in a way that makes an impact otherwise their heavenly value will be lost; the rapture could happen at any moment, and you want god to say “well done, my good and faithful servant” when judgement day comes. When a child is taught to be an arrow and that their life’s mission is to fight an ambiguous other as soon as they are able that child turns into an adult that burns themselves out trying to fight injustices; regardless of whether or not the religious beliefs of childhood were kept, the teachings have rooted themselves in the core of their identity.

Or did for me anyway.

So now I find myself, once again, with a new blank canvas in front of me that I never really thought I would use. Whenever other people talked about turning 30 I never was able to see myself here. It just seemed unlikely for reasons I couldn’t explain until I realized (again) just how much being raised to look forward to death fucked with me. I never liked my parents forcing their fascination with no longer existing down my throat and really wanted to have a chance to have my own life, but because my choices were so extremely limited 30 seemed like a number I wouldn’t make it past. My parents death-cult-as-prophecy vibes combined with the last 4 years of fascism and a full year of a pandemic made it pretty impossible to imagine existence beyond 2020.

But here we are

and here I am.

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