What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
--Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Sc. II
On Tuesday I officially turned 30. It's a number that many people proclaim to be a milestone moment in an individual's life. They throw lavish parties and treat the day as a second "coming of age". I, on the other hand, usually yell "Bollocks!"
My view has always been that a birthday -- any birthday -- is just another day. To those that I invited out for a celebratory drink on Saturday, I remarked that "Birthdays are the Earth's equivalent of passing the starting tower on Lap 198 of the Indy 500." Yes, they have a significance, but in the grand scheme of Life, the Universe and Everything, the significance is fairly small.
Today I had a few moments to reflect on this new, fourth decade I've entered. While I'm certainly no Buck Rogers or Phillip J. Fry, catapaulted hundreds of years to a completely alien yet somewhat recognizable future, I can't deny that "30" sounds and feels the slightest bit more jarring than "20-something". Maybe it's a lack of personal familiarity with the "30" designation. Ten years as a 20-something -- ostensibly one's entire adult life -- brands itself into one's consciousness as a deeply-identifying characteristic. It's not that I haven't changed in those ten years (looking back on the greenhorn who was me at 20 is good for a full belly laugh), or that my actual age remained the same, just that those personality and age changes were less immediately perceptible. They aggregated in the erosion or calcification of my life and personality into what it is today. This change, from "20-something" to "30", is more akin to the passage of an avalanche -- it is immediate and noticeable, even though it does not obliterate that which was before. It is also freaking weird.
Where does that leave me? Well, I'm no Peter Pan or Michael Jackson, and until Superman really does crash-land in a Kansas cornfield, I won't be able to reverse time. That means I'm going to have to wrap my hands around this "30" thing and feel out its contours until I know it as well as an old friend over for a spot of tea. By that time, I should be approaching 39 years and 11 months old, and I'll get to do it all over again.