The Milestone Birthday is like an Oscar for non-celebrities. It’s the closest most of us will get to the spotlight and a prize.

On your first birthday, the prize is a cake. It’s probably a beautifully decorated, creative cake. The real icing? EVERYONE is staring while you eat (or throw) it.

At 16, you get a decorated locker at school and a driver’s license. In my case, I got a tricked out locker, CDL, and a $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza from Little Caesars. I was desperate to drive anywhere.

Booze and a night out is the prize at 21. My friends, dressed in my favorite color, drove me to buy my first bottle. Then they took me to my first bar. Did I mention it was Tuesday? A school night? Totally rebellious.

Now 30. As I celebrate my 30th year, I realize the special prizes of Milestone Birthdays have evolved:

  • I can eat cake in the privacy of my own home, which is a huge relief.
  • I don’t have a locker, but I do have a car. It’s slightly larger and holds more. Plus, I can drive wherever I want. It’s a lot of Chipotle these days, which is an upgrade over Little Caesars in my book.
  • “Going out” is always a great option, especially when I stop at two drinks and fall asleep by 10.

The award at 30? Finding contentment in these ordinary things. And, even better, finally realizing the village that got you there.

Six months ago, my friends and family packed a room for my wedding. Among them — the ones who planned my first birthday party, decorated my locker, and took me out for my first drink. It’s both fascinating and humbling to ponder how they’ve guided, tested, protected, loved and shaped me over three decades.

The next Oscar moment: age 50. The prize? TBD. In the meantime, it’s seizing every chance to get better — at enjoying the moments, big or small, and giving back to the village.

P.S. Can we admire the work of whichever partygoer attached grocery store balloons to my overalls?


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8 Comments

  1. Love looking at this pictures because it makes you realize that time goes by, but the fundamentals of life don’t change much 30 years later. Your cute baby pics remind me of tender moments with Eleanor I will cherish forever! Simple pleasures like free Jewel Osco balloons is what its all about.

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