Going to Paris was a much anticipated trip that I had put at the top of my bucket list for well over two years. When I spotted an incredible deal after a challenging year of hardcore adulting, I was ready to fly and booked what could have been seen as random trip, but in reality was anything but. Save and wait to pounce.
Winter in Paris? Sure. Book that bad boy and let’s get out of dodge for a bit. Oh my gawwwd, I can finally do that now.
Being over 30 has its perks- namely, having a stable job and paid off student loans along with a really solid credit score so you can travel hack the trips you dreamed about in your 20’s.
It also has its fare share of new problems you would never have considered in your 20’s. Alcohol doesn’t metabolize quite as well. Property taxes are a thing now. You finally know what an escrow account is for and it sucks just as much as you figured it would. People start to ask when you’re going to have kids with less of your typical expectant optimism and instead, now wonder what’s wrong with you.
Heck, you even begin to ask yourself.
This is precisely what happened when the fella and I went to Paris. Many of the “what next” questions began to bubble to the surface right before we left, and egged on with the disorienting nature of jet lag, some red wine and a day surrounded by small tikes at Disneyland Paris, and you find yourself crying into your beer at last call in of all places, a Disney hotel bar.
Doing great here folks.
After a very jet lagged but happy day, literally surrounded by the very questions we were asking ourselves in quite literal form, dressed up as adorable little Elsas and Jack Sparrows- it was time for a meltdown of Chernobyl proportions. And no, the adorable little cosplayers were not the ones having a sob fest at Disney, it was me.
I’m over 30, and I’m very happy. The anxiety of being a 20-something in the social media age has waned.
Keeping up with the polished people I follow on social media, having it all and looking great on Instagram no longer appeals to me. Yet of course, now you get a new set of Joneses to keep up with- often masked with a lot more baggage and a lot more work.
You trade a perfect mani and bathroom selfies for the perfect “6 month photos” (babies not boyfriends) and a wondrously staged front porch fit for Real Simple Magazine.
I was engaged at 28, and since that didn’t go as planned, being married is now off my bucket list. After wading through those murky waters of humiliation and disappointment, I’ve come to the other side of feeling quite tickled about it.
I’m FREE and my ex is free of me too (I mean, I have come to realize that’s what he wanted all along). Plus, it isn’t lost on me that I’m born at one of the best times in life for a woman to be alive. I can make my own choices.
We live in the #MeToo era and are having a lot of hard conversations about the American Dream, access, and racial issues. It’s not easy, but compare now to the 1960’s and is anyone else celebrating that too? It’s amazing.
Paid employment. My own credit line. The ability to own property. Birth control. The ability to live in sin with the man of my choice.
The opportunity to get the milk for free without having to buy the cow, and being able to joke about who the cow is. I’m not longer the default “cow” who must get someone to buy her milk and thus justify her very existence.
In short, I relish in the ability to be free of having to acquire those things through the traditional channels. Essentially, freeing myself and other women of the necessity of man’s permission to get them. A husband is not a ticket to ride any longer, yay!
So, back to booking a trip to Paris on what seemingly random February.
It wasn’t random, I planned for this for a long time and saved for it too- because I CAN.
When the opportunity to get a nearly direct flight from Texas came along for only $660, you bet I snatched it up.
So, what happens when you book a trip to Paris and are relishing the fact that you finally have the freedom to do so? You start worrying about losing it.
At 30, you realize that everyone racing ahead on the path of pursuit isn’t really ahead they’re just making different choices- you let go of the FOMO. That’s where I’m at, but of course, consolidating that with a partner at this age can be really, really challenging.
Me on top of the snow mountain at Disneyland Paris.
It took 31 years, but I think I’m finally ready for a successful career in modeling.
Lasting love is a series of compromises, and for two independent people who are pretty smitten with each other, it can be tough to know what compromises to make. Are we growing in the right direction, together?
When we started dating, we toyed with the idea of having kids together. We had names picked out. It was “NRE”- new relationship energy to the max. I fell ass over teacup for this guy, and when you’re tripping on dopamine and serotonin (you know, those real good, kick your ass bonding chemicals you get when falling for someone), time seems to stretch out. Everything is just so wonderful and do-able at the moment. The world is your oyster. Thanks, hormones.
We’ve been riding high for three years (I think? Not really counting) and as I love drunkenly soar over the clouds, I still wonder where we’re headed. I respect him and myself enough to wonder.
Right before the trip, I asked in one of my favorite personal finance/ financial independence Facebook groups how one can evaluate if they’re ready to get married, financially and personally.
What does it change legally? How do you decide where to compromise or what to combine?
I was told by a small handful of really unhelpful people that “if you even have you ask, then marriage isn’t for you.”
Well, damn. I didn’t want to join your stupid club anyway.
I kid, it’s not a stupid club, but it certainly didn’t help me evaluate where I wanted to steer this ship, or even when. To put a bow on that, I did receive some somewhat more helpful answers, but nothing particularly concrete.
Like, why can’t anyone tell me straight up how marriage legally changes things, or share if they had a prenup and why?
Why does it have to be a blind love and trust discussion? Can’t we think and talk critically like we would with all other matters?
Surely when someone asks about the benefits and costs of private school for their kids, nobody tells them that if they have to “even ask” they don’t love their kids. That’s friggin’ bonkers.
Just don’t be an asshole. It shouldn’t be an off-limits question. It shouldn’t be the case, yet marriage seems taboo to talk about for anyone who has trepidation or curiosity on what it really means on paper. If you ask questions, you aren’t in love or you have ulterior motives. What stupidity.
Ask now, or ask a divorce lawyer, your choice- but I’d like to think that if you ask now, you may not need the divorce lawyer. But yet, don’t ask, don’t tell seems to be a cultural myth we hold dear.
That being said, I totally took away something that’s stuck with me. Society tells us that if you have to ask if you should be married or you should have kids, you probably shouldn’t. No fence straddling here, you declare and go with it. Get in, loser.
So, from Paris, after a few drinks and severely jetlagged, I came clean about my worries to my significant other and we broke up in the sloppiest, most disoriented way possible.
No, for reals. Beer tears were had. 2 a.m. Paris. Great vacation I planned, eh?
I am in no rush to get married or have kids, but the idea that I just didn’t just know one way or the other apparently rattled my cage pretty good. Surely, we were too different. Surely, we weren’t growing together.
Surely his hope for having a legacy, and my disregard for the concept of crafting one solely via children would never change. Surely, we had to have the answers right the frick now.
(Ironically, being totally exhausted and crying to your S.O. about kids is sort of good practice for how it feels right? Feel free to comment below).
In sum, we had to be doomed.
Us just hours before beer/jet lag meltdown 2018.
Then, because we literally had no choice but to enjoy the trip, or don’t and waste it all- we spent nearly a week in Paris and then some meandering days in the beautiful mediterranean city of Barcelona.
Nobody should ever talk about deep things on vacation while your body is in full mutiny mode.
Maybe being weirdly disoriented and running on terrible plane sleep in a foreign land is not the best way to examine the next chapter of your life. It can though, be the best way to address nagging doubts and deep concerns if you wait a few days. Travel helps you get the lead out. It helps you examine things, slow down and change the stage to help draw out what’s underneath the day to day and get to the nitty gritty.
Before you decide to hit the doomsday button- get a good night’s rest and then proceed to see some 500+ year old world heritage sites to completely put you in your place of how stupid your life’s silly little dramas are.
You, much like humanity, can do so much. Look at a few 400 year old castles built without cranes and tell me you can’t figure out how to work together as a couple to sort the minutiae of your relationship out.
This was an oyster in Barcelona. OMG tapas are no joke y’all. We partied hearty.
Of course, this took a day or two to realize. I ate a steady diet of charcuterie boards and red wine. Then, we consumed a lots of tapas that were picked based on the names alone or by pointing to pictures on a menu because we don’t speak Cataloynian. I couldn’t keep track of how much I’d spent on food, but knew that surely, it was a good sum.
(Answer: I spent $1300 total on our trip, including transportation and a few gifts to bring home. The rest was paid for on travel rewards points.)
We got lost. We got found. We lost track of the days and couldn’t remember timelines. We had a gay ol’ time.
But yet, I still have thoughts.
I like being able to book trips. I finally have a passport and the ability to use it. I like being able to dream.
I don’t know how we wouldn’t manage kids without having families nearby to support us.
Women still disproportionately do the child raising and care even while balancing full time jobs. The decision of “who would stay home if the kids needed us,” is still not a debate between couples. It’s never even questioned who stays home and the lack of equanimity concerns me.
I still have worries about childbirth after seeing several that friends nearly died during labor (Yes, several. Despite normal, healthy pregnancies) and yes, I’m scared about what it would do to my body.
I’m not ready to get over the stigma attached to motherhood, I want to fight and change it. Yes, I honestly worry that even participating in it is complacency. I struggle with that.
I struggle with the idea that I would go through nine months of pregnancy and 18 years of childrearing and wonder how involved I can be if I work full time at a traditional job. Other moms laudably make it work, can or should I? Is there another way?
I still feel strongly that I want to be a mother to adopted children. I still rally against the idea that I need to have “a few of my own” to really know what motherhood is like or that having a biological child somehow means my legacy lives on.
That nature is superior to nurture when the contrary is the only thing I feel explains my very self. This point probably upsets me the most out of all of them. Children aren’t just made, they’re chosen. Bonds aren’t natural, they’re nurtured.
I’m not going to apologize for wanting motherhood on contrarian terms, though I’m sad my desire to adopt is considered “less than” or contrarian in the first place.
Motherhood is brave, brave love. I already feel protective of the child that’s not even real to me yet, but I know will come to me of means other than my own. Some things I can’t clearly explain, but I will not apologize for them anymore. All the “you don’t know love until it’s YOURS” (you know what they’re implying) can officially piss off.
So, Paris. It was a lot more than just tours and train rides. It was some challenging soul searching.
Travel does that to you. It shakes up your snow globe in ways you wouldn’t expect. Consider me shook.
I come back feeling renewed and I faced some demons down with my partner. I also put some wiggle room in the self-assigned timelines I’d given myself. I’m giving myself breathing room to continue exploring how I feel. I’m giving myself forgiveness for having lingering questions and permission not to answer them just yet.
I’m not sure what our goals will be together, but for now we are committed to a forward motion that begs for a lot of soul searching on both of our parts. We are working to some short term goals with our careers, working towards financial independence and saving for our next trip.
We are eager to see the world. We are still very much in love. We are letting go of arbitrary timelines because of our age and time spent together as a metric for the next step. We are fortunate enough to take our time in getting to the next stage and I can breathe now that I’m allowing myself to do so.
I also give my permission to be myself and bring my whole self to the conversation instead of the baggage of “shoulds.” I have full permission to explore what got me here, and where I’m going. I give myself the grace of self acceptance and forgiveness when I need to slow down and embrace this chapter before rushing on to the next one.
I feel like I’ve just become this woman. I’m not ready to give her up yet. I want to see who she becomes in her own time.