I am so thankful for the opportunity to feel connection these past two weeks with so many people from all stages of my life. Father’s Day, meetings with clients, phone calls with friends, a beautiful e-mail from an acquaintance at Stanford, Alex’s birthday, Bill’s birthday, a visit with a friend and former student, the Mock Trial 1998-2007 reunion: these events engage me in a community of amazing people, a community I cherish more now in my 30s than I ever have in my whole life. I have always adored my friends, of course, and felt myself around them; yet I am finding in this phase of my life a new kind of freedom to be myself—which is much sillier than most people suppose, even though I know I come off as quite serious quite often—with everyone.

Perhaps we get to a point in our 30s when we have the self-confidence we need to look life, and its axioms or lack thereof, right in the eye. My friend Ashley and I were talking about this a few days ago. It’s not that we won’t make some of the mistakes we made in our 20s; we just have more context now in our 30s for putting those mistakes in the proper context and being willing to laugh at ourselves. We know in our 30s that life cycles around. We don’t, or can’t, stay in any one state forever. That means sadness and happiness are always in a state of flux and balance. There is, as my friend Stella puts it, a resilience.

I am finding myself in a place where I am truly able to meet people as they are…and as I am. If my early 20s were characterized by the desperate need to categorize and order as a way to make some sense of all the new ways of thinking and people I met in the vast social experiment of the university, then my 30s are characterized by a sort of zenlike amusement at how we can all be so different but still so fundamentally all alike. Dependency, judgement, envy—all the things that muddy up connection are all so inconsequential when we realize that our essences/spirits are not in competition with one another. The 30s seem to be a time of sureness of self. By that, I do not mean: sureness that we are perfect, or sureness that we have all the answers. What I mean by sureness of self is that we are, at the very least, sure that we have the internal strength to get through even the rough patches. Sureness that we are equal with everyone else and can meet—mind to mind, heart to heart, authentic string to authentic string—as equals. Sureness that we can stand by who we are, mistakes and all, and take ownership.

Ownership has been a big theme for me this year. I believe fully that taking ownership of myself—my health, my habits, my weaknesses—has allowed me to pursue more nuanced and authentic connections with family, friends, and people with whom I would like to be friends. Ownership of myself allows me to be okay with the possibility of rejection: I know what my weaknesses are, and I take complete responsibility for them. I still might not let it all hang out on the first date, so to speak (after all, I have an introverted kind of energy), but  the parts that do come out are genuine (for better or worse). Ownership of myself means that I laugh at myself extremely often: a state of mind I often had at the beginning of high school, a kind of mirth that comes with knowing how imperfect you are and being okay with that. I mean, we’re all just writing our stories and playing our roles, and looking back on previous chapters with great guffaws. Is there anyone out there who can read his or her middle and high school journal with a totally straight face or without rolling eyes? I know I can’t! So when we’re 60 and 70 looking back to now, might it not be almost the same thing?

That may be why now, in my 30s, other people’s stories are so much more vastly interesting to me than my own. The part I love best about all of these connections these past two weeks is hearing narrative and putting together the pieces to uncover truly what makes my friends sing inside. Finding that singing part inside of another person is one of the greatest joys in life, I think.

The 30s are good.

So, catching up:

On Father’s Day we took my dad fishing at Lake Skinner. We didn’t catch anything, but we had a great time not doing that! I had never been fishing before, and I loved that my dad taught me something new, just like when he would make radios with me when I was little or play chess. We came back to my house after hours at the lake and had a little dinner with Bill and my mom, also.

dad and kiddoseric fishingfishing

One of my dearest friends Steve has a son Alex, who turned four-years-old this month. To celebrate, Steve and Carol threw a sailing themed party in Manhattan Beach. Most of our FFL (friends for life) crew was there. It was a lovely afternoon and extremely well executed. Steve and Carol truly thought of everything!

alex birthday

Then my husband Bill had his birthday! We had his brothers and their families over for lunch on the 25th. Seth brought DVDs of old pictures of the four boys growing up. I had never seen these pictures before; in fact, I have barely seen any pictures of Bill as a baby/child—ever. As the mother of his children, I absolutely adore these pictures (two of several treasures). I have always thought my children looked more like Bill, even extrapolating from his adult features; yet to see him at their age so plainly makes my heart swell up with love for all three of them.

Bill with four candles

Above, Bill as he turned four-years-old

Bill and Chesty (9)

With his brother Chet (the birth order is Bill, Chet, Seth, and Patrick)

Earlier this week, my friend and former AP English student Jim came over for a visit. He is taking a bit of time in Temecula (primarily to write with the intent to publish a paper on econometrics) before heading in August to George Mason University to start his full-ride Ph.D. in the Department of Economics. What a mind he has! Bill enjoys him, too, because they read many of the same authors and books. (I try to keep up with those, too, but not as much as I would like I’m afraid)!

visit with jim

And today, we had a Mock Trial reunion at Harbor Beach in Oceanside for the Waugh/Davis years, which spanned 1998 to 2007. Because I taught at the high school that I once attended, I was able to spend time not only with people from my Mock Trial team but also with friends/former students who happened to be part of the team when I was teaching. So much fun!

state

First, a throwback. This picture was taken right after we placed 1st in Riverside County during the  1998 county competition. We played against Poly, a notoriously difficult team who usually wins county, in the finals. The win gave us a place in the state competition, which was in Sacramento that year. The exhilaration of that moment will forever course in a bit of my blood. We had a small team, very tight. Marguerite and I were the trial attorneys, but we played both prosecution and defense—depending on which side of our team got called—and so we played every round. Working a case from both angles like that was thrilling…a totally thrilling game. Marguerite was our closer on both sides (I was the opener—closing is much harder), and there is no one I have ever seen who could bring it down like she could. She nailed it every time. I wish I could go back and do it just once more, with this exact team. Our witnesses that year were absolutely fabulous, with just enough characterization to stay in the rules. Our clerk and bailiff never erred. Steve and Tara could field the most outlandish impromptu questions during pre-trial arguments. Yes, I wish I could go back and play one more round with these guys. Memories…

98

And here is a part of that same ’98 team, today: Jer, Cari, Steve, me, Shil, Jeremy

kazoo concert

By far a highlight: a kazoo and vocal medley. This is a bucket list item I had forgotten to put on my bucket list. I have never had so much fun with a kazoo. As Jeremy observed, “As if being on Mock Trial didn’t make us nerdy enough…”

kazoo

Pretty sure this had to be our rendition of “Puff the Magic Dragon” or perhaps it was the rousing round we performed of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” At any rate, Judge John Davis (next to me with the beard): you’d better give your UCLA Madrigals a heads up. We’re coming…

missy

So I never played on a team with, or taught, Melissa. I was fortunate to cross paths with her as a sub when I was first getting started in my career. I have admired her ever since. She flies her own plane! Aside from that, she is just this really interesting, vibrant person. I loved seeing her today. She is taking the Bar in July. Good study vibes are being sent your way, Missy!

megan

This last picture is really, really special to me. This is Megan, a former AP 11 student (the year after Jim) and now a beautiful adult and friend who got married just last week. Creative, a writer, a person who has always pushed my own thoughts further, and a sweet and earnest spirit, Megan is here teaching my children how to fly a kite. I wish I could show you all the pleased and proud look on Eric’s face when he was holding the kite string. It was the best thing that happened to him all day, I think. Katie, too, adored Megan and loved swimming with her in the ocean. What kind of amazing world is this when a student you have always cherished becomes a teacher and mentor for your children?

Sometimes life is so crazy beautiful like that, and I almost tear up at how cyclical and connected everything is. I often find myself just hoping to be worthy, even a little bit, of these connections.

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