You are twenty-nine-and-seven-months old in the picture. You are hours pregnant with twin girls. But you don't know that yet. You are looking out the window.
You've been thinking about turning thirty since last year's birthday. Not because you're afraid of getting older but because you feel like you're supposed to be. When you're thirty you're supposed to be offended when people ask you how old you are. When you're thirty you're supposed to want to be younger. You're supposed to say things to girls in their twenties like, "when I was your age" or "Just wait until you're older" or "I used to think the same thing... when I was young."
These are the things people have been telling you for years. And now its your turn to be authoritative. Except you will never be the authority on anything besides your own life. Because you are the only one with your experiences. Because contrary to the unsolicited advice of others, there's no recipe for happiness, success... We are born with a blank maps in one pocket and a pencil in the other. Every day we draw and erase as we go. So you sharpen your pencil. Sing Happy Birthday every year on the same day. Thirty is how many times you've heard your name in a song.
Happy Birthday dear
Becca, Rebecca, Mommy , Happy Birthday to you.
Meanwhile, seemingly overnight, everyone's throwing serums at you, the words "anti" and "age" wrapped around every label or maybe it's only now that you notice. That and the grey hairs that seem to multiply in your sleep while you're dreaming. Too many to pluck with your eyebrow tweezers so you let them be. For now.
You contemplate coloring your hair. Doing something extreme. Ever since you got your license you've been trading in your car for something more practical. Cabriolet Convertible to Jetta to Passat to Minivan pretty much sums up the last fourteen years of your life. It used to be about what you drive. Now it's about what drives you.
The Talbots catalog comes out of nowhere, even though you've never shopped at Talbots before. The Urban Outfitters catalog arrives the next day but you don't shop there anymore. You used to but not anymore. No more floral shifts with open backs for you.
No sweater sets either, Talbots.
You throw the catalogs away, stare at the line that straddles the "what to wear in your 20's" and "what to wear in your 30's" portion of Harper's Bazaar. You prefer the "what to wear in your 70's+" anyway. The older you are, the better you become at wearing your insides... green flowing robes and gold jewelry up your arms...
You stare at the photo of yourself looking out the window, shake your head. You had no idea then what was coming, not that you do now. Not that you ever will. You'll always be looking out the window up and then down, across cities, trying to find the ocean. Is that it? No. Yes, I think it is... Isn't it?
You'll always be next to the window, where you can open them, close them as you wish. In January, it was on the seventh floor of a hotel. Today it's from your bedroom, where the bed currently sits unmade, dirty pair of panel pants on the floor. Meanwhile the kids are singing Friday in the kitchen with Lego microphones, waiting for daddy to come home. And the dogs are outside barking at the neighbor's construction project. He's building an add-on to the house he lives in alone.
And where you assumed today you'd be mourning the end of a decade, you're really just celebrating the beginning. You're looking out the window again. You are twenty-nine, eleven-months and three-weeks-old in this picture. You are twenty-three weeks pregnant, you now know. You are staring into a camera in your parents' backyard.
There's a tattoo on your arm that says, Tell the story until it comes true but you don't really believe it anymore. Perhaps the tattoo should read "Tell the truth until it becomes a story," you think.
...Maybe you've had it backwards all along.
So you turn around. Toward the singing voices and the kitchen where it's almost dinnertime. You let the dogs inside and you sit down at the table, sing along with your children, loud enough for the ones in utero to hear you. They can hear you now. They recognize your voice. Gotta get down on Friday...
You take a picture of this moment, the family you love. You don't know anything beyond what you see here. Of your front patio out your kitchen window, the coloring books and the spilled juice and your children's smiles. No matter what has been or what will be tomorrow, this is your present.
Be happy. Be yourself. Be older. Be grateful that this is your life, thirty years of taking in views...
...And many more on channel four. And Scooby Doo on channel two. And Frankenstien on channel nine, amen.