So I started my new job a couple of weeks ago, just ten days before my 29th birthday. For some reason, twenty-nine already feels much older than twenty-eight.
I celebrated on my actual birthday with Amber. We went out to dinner at Baker and Banker in San Francisco and had one of the most delicious meals (sorry no pictures – dining room was too dark). We had Spanish octopus and melon salad with edamame, sambal vinaigrette, and black sesame. A rabbit terrine with herb mustard and crostini to start. Both we’re executed perfectly. The octopus was tender and complimented by sweet melon and spicy sambal, garnished with micro cilantro. So many flavors and textures, and so, so good. The terrine was rich and scrumptious, an impeccable slice of charcuterie with sweet, tangy mustard and thinly sliced pickled veggies. The showstopper was our entrée; mirin and soy braised black cod with uni and shiitake sticky rice and charred bok choy. We asked our server for a recommendation, and he said that since the restaurant opened, they have never taken the cod dish off the menu. It was sweet and unctuous, full of umami, and the rice was another completely different layer of umami, laced with sweet, briny uni. For dessert, nectarine and pluot crisp and brandysnap ice cream. Also quite delicious, and though intrigued by the candied bacon doughnuts with bourbon cheesecake filling and maple glaze, our heavy stomachs leaned to a lighter, fruitier send off.
Four days later, I celebrated with friends at my house on a beautifully warm evening with four-dozen oysters, homemade grilled pizzas, and cake.
No need to go into depth about this – homemade pizza dough with a smorgasboard of toppings; two dozen Marin Myagi oysters and two dozen BBQ oysters with a sriracha lime butter; and cake, but not just any cake, “Amber cake” as my friends have come to call it, in the shape of an oyster. We ate until we were uncomfortably, and gleefully full.
While sitting outside, digesting our feast, we discussed the age of 29. How does it feel to be one year closer to 30?
Maybe it was the fact that my birthday came and went without the normal gusto of a birthday (I’m told I should get used to this). Dinner, though fun and amazing, could have been any night of the week – so it didn’t exactly feel like my birthday. By the time Sunday rolled around and I blew out the candles on my cake, I was actually starting to feel like I was growing up. Grown up job, with grown up hours, and grown up responsibilities.
I guess it was about time I started moving in the direction of growing up. All of a sudden, 29 feels much older.
I’ve never seen myself as a Monday through Friday person; I’ve always liked the freedom of a flexible schedule, which is part of the reason I love being a writer – I set my schedule, my own hours, work on the days I want. I’ve always wanted to grow up, get married, have a family and a house with a white-picket fence; but I wanted to do it in more of an unconventional way. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that we do not live in a perfect world where we always get everything we want. Sometimes we plan or hope for one thing and get something completely different instead.
I never expected to be working for Wine Spectator. I never expected to have a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday gig with big, real responsibilities. Needless to say, I was nervous on my first day of work. But nerves aside, from day one, my daily routine shifted. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve become domesticated by my “adult” job. I come home, kiss and chitchat with the girlfriend; make dinner, rinse and repeat. It’s a feeling I’ve known before. Previous to Amber, I was in a long-term relationship with someone who I lived with for nearly two years. Back then; in the days of my youth, I hated the monotony of coming home, making dinner, maybe watching a movie, and going to sleep. But I’m older now, and wiser – so I’d like to think – and the days of partying and showing up to work hung over are mostly behind me. And coming home to Amber suits me quite well. Before you know it, we’ll be getting a d-o-g together (shhh don’t tell Amber) and buying a house. Hell even before I started my job, Amber joined a wine club. Here in wine country, joining a wine club goes hand in hand with buying a dog or a house.
One of my favorite Emerson’s quotes: “the years teach much which the days never knew.” For me, this implies that the idea of experience does not boil down to the seemingly rhythmic events of a single day, and then tallied up to signify life. Instead, we are in control, and can extract meaning from each experience to bring significance to it. We don’t always see the surface level that the days hold, but when we put it all together into a package we call a year, we discover how important each day and each experience is leading up to the day that we are currently living. Some experiences we create, others are thrust upon us, but when they come, we should embrace them.
I’ve always seen the multiple layers in the little things, but its funny to look back and see all the little mishaps and small or maybe even big steps that led me to this position. Being grown up, for me, is defined as having or showing maturity in outlook, attitude, or appearance. Everything I’m now feeling matches up with all those traits.
Friday afternoons have let me know that I’m an adult. I never knew what it meant to look longingly at a clock on Friday afternoon, imploring it to tick faster; and then to hold an adult beverage in my hand on Friday afternoon, knowing that a weekend of infinite possibilities is ahead of me. It’s a new and different feeling. But it’s a good feeling.
In the meantime, on my birthday, I ate cake like a kid, and drank wine like an adult, toeing the line of adulthood for another day.