Friday, September 16, 2011

Sing Us a Song, Piano Man: The Big Three-0

Lindsay and I swayed along as T.J. sang Billy Joel's "Piano Man" at karaoke last night. I was in the mood to share my loneliness with friends and a beer, to "forget about life for a while." My 30th birthday is approaching; it will be here in a matter of hours. I embrace my 30s, look forward to putting my 20s behind me and starting a new chapter of my life. I'm not really afraid of getting older, and think I may have even found my first gray hair this morning, which only made me shrug.

But inevitably, one's 30th birthday will cause some introspection. I have been thinking about the way the last decade has shaped me. Although I think I know myself well, I've still been very unsure lately about where to go or what to do with my life next. I'm the bartending lawyer and while I fantasize about making that a real and lucrative profession the fantasy seems to be ending as I lack the motivation to really make it work. I feel like a hypocrite, having grown frustrated lately that Ben also seems unsure about what kind of career he would like to have and I put pressure on him to be the husband and provider that I need and want. Meanwhile I play bartender, and throw on a suit a couple of times a week, file a document here, make an appearance there, and practice trial objections while watching "The Good Wife." Three long years, thousands of dollars, and hours of practice honing my trial advocacy skills are seemingly wasted, because lately I am most content just serving drinks. Because it's never "just serving drinks." It is the only way I know how to nurse people and make them feel better, in turn making myself feel useful. When I remember what so-and-so drinks, how they like it garnished, and what kind of straw they use, when I ask about their families and their lives out of genuine interest, when I cheer them up and even when I allow them to be the ones to cheer me up, I do something special and worthwhile. I feel wanted, needed, sometimes even like I'm answering a calling. Is it okay to say that tending bar might even be a religious experience? Except, with bad words.

Maybe I'll get a "real" job offer soon. Maybe I'll buy my own bar (With what? I don't know.). Maybe Ben and I will open a restaurant. Maybe we'll move out of town. Maybe I'll go back to school. Maybe I'll start a non-profit organization. Maybe I'll become a motivational speaker -- that sounds like a good, real pretend job. Probably I'll write a book. Certainly I'll spend a few more nights at a bar.

Maybe we'll have another baby. When the thoughts racing through my brain slow down a little, they center on one thing: a family. More babies. Lots of them. I name them and dress them and predict their careers in my mind. My friend used to call these baby-cravings. I crave a baby. I desire children more than anything.

Just under the wire, I met the last of my goals for my twenties. I gave birth to a son, to Gabriel, and though his life didn't play out the way it did in my head, being his mother has still blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. While I am unsure of many things, one thing I am sure of is that I am a mom, and I was meant to be.

Billy Joel's bartender confided in him, "'Bill, I believe this is killing me,' as the smile ran away from his face. 'Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star if I could get out of this place.'" I guess a lot of people think I could also be so much more than what I am. "You ever gonna put that education to use?" they ask. I put it to use every day. "You guys gonna try for another baby?" Of course. I'll never stop trying. "What are you DOING here?" Just serving drinks.

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