29 Things I learned in my 20s

My first matzo ball soup. Age 25.

I learned…about traveling, and the city.

  1. That it’s always better if I wear a dress when I fly.
  2. That parallel parking should be done in a spirit of boldness.
  3. The magic words for when some airport guy tells me I can’t get on the plane I need to get on, or I’m not sure which way the next train is headed, or which way it is to 7th and K: “I need help.”

I learned…about being a woman.

  1. The power of breasts.
  2. That my Aunt Suzanne is right. There are many reasons to wear lipstick – all of them sufficient.
  3. And how to love my body, which looks like it does because I’m a woman and I’m alive.

I learned…about the heart.

  1. That you’d be surprised, who you will love,
  2. That chemistry choreographs itself,
  3. And sometimes you just need to drive to Lubbock, in the name of love.
The way to Lubbock: dusk falls on the Llano Estacado somewhere near Muleshoe, Texas. Age 22.

I learned…about being well.

  1. That the greatest gift is sleep,
  2. Fat is my friend and sugar and flour are cliquey frienemies.
  3. A walk can ease anything.
  4. And how to be alone on a mountain.

I learned…about my calling.

  1. How to write a hundred nature essays that four people will read.
  2. That discovering all the things I’m not – scientist, academic, lawyer, editor, reporter – is not failure, but freedom to invest in who I am.
  3. That no one else has it any more figured out than I do, not really.
  4. And that I need to stop waiting for someone else’s permission (REALLY: I need to stop waiting for someone else’s permission).
Stockton Island, Lake Superior. Age 23.

I learned…about other people.

  1. That there’s nothing more human than inconsistency: I know this personally from loving a team in the NFL even though the NFL completely sucks.
  2. And my own unreasonableness is a better guide than logic if I’m actually trying to understand someone.

I learned…tough stuff.

  1. How to make a mean matzo ball soup, and that a mean matzo ball soup will never compare to a mom’s matzo ball soup.
  2. Because matzo ball soup is thicker than water and
  3. Religion doesn’t care what I think about it, and religion matters.
  4. Love might be the answer, but it’s not always enough.
  5. Some things end.     They end.

I learned…

  1. That sometimes the key to letting go is thinking, “Well, that person can go fuck himself.”
  2. And yet there are people to love – everywhere .
Me and mountains, Montana. Age 29.

I learned…

  1. That there is no final point of arrival, not really—
  2. And that’s why life calls for faith, though not necessarily the religious kind. Because
  3. What doesn’t kill us gives us stories. We stand on our stories.

6 thoughts on “29 Things I learned in my 20s

  1. Whether its DC, MN, or the wild west, you can always go “home” and those who love you the most will be there to greet you.

  2. “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin. Reading through your list, it seems to me that in your 20s you learned to be kind to yourself. If the name of the game is to achieve some wisdom along the way, you are off to a helluva start. 🙂

  3. Wonderful thoughts! I hope your lessons can move someone else through their growth.

    Just think how smart you will be at 40! I cannot wait to meet you anew then…..I hope that I am still alive in 10 years! My time is running out, and yours is just beginning! I love you Godchild…..GM Aunt Suzanne🌵🍒💋

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Aunt Suzanne, thank you for reading (and for the great advice on lipstick always!). I also hope we’ll get to have a good conversation about life lessons ten years from now. Love back to you.

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