March 26, 2020
Today, I celebrate my LEGAL 30th birthday.
What the heck is that?
Well, in case you haven’t heard the annual retelling of this story, here it goes…
I was born March 27th. That has always been a significant date, because my grandmother’s birthday was March 28th. It was a thing.
When I was 14, a tornado destroyed the place where all of our documents were kept. So, at 15, when it came time to get my driver’s permit, my brother had to take me to get a copy of my birth certificate. Easy enough.
I go in the health department that day by myself, received the copy, and read through it as I made my way back to the car.
I opened the car door in bewilderment. “Was our daddy black?”
Now, keep in mind, my father died when I was only seven, but I most certainly knew who he was, his ethnicity, and if you’ve ever taken one glimpse at this pasty white skin of mine, you’d unmistakably know my father was indeed not African American.
“It says right here on this birth certificate. Father’s Race – BLACK.”
Y’all. I kid you not.
“Oh, and my birthday is March 26th.”
Two mistakes. Two mistakes on my birth certificate. So, just to verify my sources, I went back to my mother with questions…
“Jacque, are you SURE I was born March 27th? I mean… I was the fifth kid and all. I’m sure you were tired by then. Maybe a little confused.”
“Jennifer. I’m certain I know the day I birthed you. I’m also certain I know who your father was.”
As it turns out, it cost money to have corrections made on you birth certificate… even if it’s their mistake. Plus, it has made for a great story for the last 16 years, and I’ve been able to celebrate two birthdays! (Don’t think I won’t be celebrating both today AND tomorrow!)
So, these days, I almost forget my actual birthday isn’t until tomorrow. My family and even my husband have given into the fact that I celebrate the 26th, as well. And ya know, I’m not complaining.
This birthday, though, comes with some pretty serious mixed emotions. I wouldn’t say I am scared of getting older, necessarily, but after spending the morning gathering photos from my twenties for this post, I will say that I’m a little sad to continue to add distance to some of my greatest memories thus far.
As I enter into this new decade, I leave some really wonderful people behind. My mother, most notably. In the last two months, I’ve found myself missing her at times I couldn’t prepare for or wouldn’t expect. I consider myself a fairly rational person and have known this day was coming for some time now. I’ve called myself preparing for it; I knew what differences this day would hold. Yet, somehow, grief attacked anyway. Almost as if from a different angle. One might would think I would welcome this new decade in an effort to leave those feelings behind- a metaphorical wiping of the slate. Yet, somehow, I find myself wanting to cling to this idea of my twenties where she remains. Where she so diligently attended my college graduation, was so proud when we bought our first house, watched as I married the most incredible man, sadly but with unwavering support watched as I moved 6 hours away, and continued with all her effort to visit us as often as possible. I know those memories will always remain, but each day I inch farther and farther from a life I knew that included her voice, her support, her advice, her visits, and her. Just her.
But, as is life, the twenties also held some really incredible moments. Foundational moments. Moments that created me and continue to shape who I am.
My inaugural year in the decade was certainly the most eventful and memorable year at Auburn. I spent the fall watching Auburn football go undefeated, working with a group of people that I can’t even think about without the biggest heart swell (Gosh, I wish I could go back to those AUC days and tell myself how much I’d appreciate them now!), and making memories that I really need to write down in order to preserve the joy they bring me. I also made a once in a lifetime trip to Arizona that comes with its own share of crazy memorable moments.
Not long after slipping into 21, I graduated from Auburn and made the move back to my hometown. At the time, that move came with mixed feelings, but in the long run, it was where I needed to be, when I needed to be.
Over the next few years, Seth and I would begin a new stage of our relationship. An adult stage. One with tons of responsibilities and life lessons. We struggled those first few years. A lot. It was a turning point. Though we’d spent most of our time together since we were 16 or so, these years were like learning a completely new person. To learn to live with someone is no easy feat. We moved in together, opened joint checking accounts, started adult jobs, struggled financially as we navigated the real world, but boy, did we learn. We learned how to do life together. We learned how to grow up together and to lean on each other. Twenty-one through twenty-four did not go without their fair share of troubles and hardship, but I also credit them for making us stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.
On my twenty-third birthday, I signed the offer letter for my first for real, for real big girl job and, in turn, kicked off the six year period where Seth and I would work at the same place. On my twenty-fourth birthday, we signed on the purchase of our first house together. And on my twenty-fifth birthday, well…. we did something a little crazy, but that’s a story for a different post… coming soon.
Not long after the twenty-fifth birthday, we celebrated what we still consider as the best day of our lives with our family and friends. You’ll see A LOT of those photos here, because well… I wish I could relive that day over and over again. (But with the knowledge I have today on how to plan a wedding! Haha!)
In the two weeks following the wedding, we returned all the rentals, actually took my bridal portraits, and packed enough things in a suitcase to make the initial move to Shreveport. We spent the first week in our new city living out of a hotel and then moved into an apartment for the next two months. And in that two months, we found our lovely little house on the lake that we now call home.
In the almost five years that we’ve lived in Shreveport, we’ve lived a great deal of life. We’ve gotten our passports and made two big trips across the Atlantic, traveled all across the US – near and far, met some of the most incredible people and made sweet friends, adopted our Poodle boy, and really settled into a rhythm with our extra-curriculars. (Oh, and I ran the Disney Princess half-marathon and had back surgery. Nbd.)
Which brings me to my twenty-ninth birthday. The year that brought me the greatest freedom and unimaginable joy. The year I gave myself the gift of self-employment.
Shortly before my birthday last year, I attended a photography workshop in Birmingham. It was, for me, a huge investment. I’m notorious for being frugal (or resourceful, as I like to call it) in many areas of life, so it was hard to stomach the cost, but I felt like it was the next step. Like there was something there that I needed.
And I found it. Confidence and courage. The courage to make the leap that I’d been preparing for over the previous year.
I called Seth (the first night, I think) and said, “I know you’re probably not going to want to hear this.”
Before I could even tell him, he said, “Well, I saw this coming.” 🙂
It was there that I knew I was going to take the leap sooner rather than later. I’m not saying I felt ready or prepared or even certain of it, but I knew I just had to jump.
May 2, 2019, I worked my last day at my “real job.” And I can honestly say, I’ve never looked back. I have been overall happier, more confident, and more personally successful than I think I’ve ever been in my life this last year.
Now, 2020 has started off, well…. rocky to say the least, but just like many of the other storms I’ve weathered in my life, I do think “this too shall pass.”
And in the meantime, I think I’ll just soak in the sunshine, enjoy the slower pace many of us find ourselves in, give thanks for all that I have, and appreciate what these first 30 years have given me.
And for you… I give you a little recap in photographic form.
And just know that it drives me a little crazy that some of these are iPhone shots, some are saved off Facebook, and many are my beginning days of photography. Struggling to hold myself together about the lack of uniformity, but I think we’ll all survive.
And this, folks, is why you should scrapbook/write everything down. It has taken more time than I care to admit to gather and sort these photos. Ha!