Today is my twenty-ninth birthday. But, as some of the needling interlopers whom I call friends have pointed out, this is not year twenty-nine. This is year thirty, technically. You might wonder what cruel non-human would ever put it that way. But rest assured, reader, that I have always been able to take a joke. And the emotionless cyborgs who mentioned this to me (my husband and roommate—a devious team) know that rule applies to pretty much anything, including my age. But not to food; I never, ever joke about the business of eating well.
Twenty-nine has been framed as the age of looming, albeit arbitrary deadlines, as the age that's one year away from thirty. This is the time, I'm told, I'll start to ponder uncomfortable-but-necessary questions. Am I on a good career path? Am I saving money? When do kids fit into the picture? Are my friends cool? (Yes.) Am I cool? (No, but I'm okay with it.) Am I happy? But I've already knit my brows over questions like this, over the milestones that form our collective understanding of success. I'm no stranger to the pitfalls of comparison.
Happily, I can report that this weekend was less about big questions and more about pleasant distractions and ridiculous food. Two dear friends took Adam and I out for drinks at Seven Grand and dinner at B.S. Taqueria, which was everything I hoped it would be. Adam took me to Abbot Kinney where we ate calamari tacos and short rib burritos from the Kogi BBQ truck. Dear god, those short rib burritos... with kimchi (always add the kimchi). Another good friend took me out to brunch on Sunday morning, and Adam and I spent the rest of the day with my mom, holiday shopping. I felt loved. And full.
On Friday, Adam took me to République where we dined on oysters and duck liver like French royalty. I ordered cavatelli pasta with chanterelle mushrooms that I swear tasted like the perfectly salted, crispy edge of a pork chop. As I pushed the mushrooms and chewy bundles of pasta around the plate, watching the cream and olive oil swirl around each other, and enjoyed the wine-buzz from a merlot I couldn't pronounce, I felt deeply satisfied—and not just with the dinner, although good wine and impossibly rich cream sauce can trick almost anyone.
I felt satisfied in a way that I wouldn't have recognized in my early twenties, which I spent longing for things I couldn't yet identify. I'm no wiser now, on the other side of my twenties. But these days I'm finding that, by asking different questions, I get better answers. I'm finding that it's okay that it's not always okay, that perfection is boring. I don't long for the corner office or a cherry-red Mercedes, as it turns out. I do long for weekends like this last one—to eat well and with good company, to find joy in a plate of cold oysters and pasta swimming in cream sauce, to have long conversations with old friends, and for quiet afternoons to cook and write. And I'm happy to at least have those conclusions, as I enter year twenty-nine—fine, fine—thirty.