27 before 28

“Oh tie up your boat, take off your coat, and take a look around. Everything is alright now. Cause the sky has finally opened.”

If you know me at all, you know I’ve been obsessed with Kacey Musgraves’ latest album, Golden Hour, that came out this spring. I have a different favorite song every week, and I’m still getting something new out of some songs. When I first heard “Rainbow” and really processed it, I couldn’t listen to it without full-on crying. It reminds me of everyone I’ve known who has struggled with depression and for whatever reason struggle to see the beauty around them.


But then the other day I heard it while I was driving around and I felt like those words up there applied to me, too. I sobbed in my car when I thought about how happy I am now vs. how unhappy I was not too long ago. Over the past year and handful of months, I’ve felt washes of gratefulness for the way my life has gone. Whenever I look around and realize that I knew none of the people sitting at my happy hour table a year ago, or when I have a particularly good day at work, or when I’ve spent an entire weekend outside, or when a super eclectic group of people all show up for my birthday happy hour and get along beautifully. When I stop within these moments and think about how happy I am, it feels like the words in that song. It feels like I’m taking my coat off, and noticing just how calm everything is now that the storm is over.

That probably sounds dramatic, even to people who are aware of the terrible relationship I was in before I left, but I had no idea how much that was affecting me until now, when I’ve had the gift of time and space and perspective. I feel so much lighter now. The fog has lifted. I sleep so much better. The sky has finally opened.

Birthdays for me lately are another chance to reflect, so I’ve been even more existential these past couple of weeks as I think about all that 26 was and preparing to have an amazing 27th year.

26 was a year of “should I stay or should I go,” in so many aspects.

Should I stay at Columbia’s “mega” church, where I can participate as much or as little as I feel like, or should I dive into this new church plant, where everyone is needed to help serve? Do I like my job enough to stay? Or should I try something different? Do I want to buy this house? Or keep saving money and wait for something better? Is this relationship right?

These are the things I navigated this year, and at times I felt like I couldn’t go wrong with any option. It’s a great feeling. I know I’ve written this here before, but a year later it’s still true: I am so happy here in Columbia. I have never felt more myself or more like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. After a few years of anxiously bumbling around, I’ll take this. I’ll be grateful for this feeling every day.

The things I want to do before 28:

  1. Buy a house?
  2. Visit New York City
  3. Still haven’t eaten at CC’s City Broiler here in Columbia
  4. Go on a ski trip
  5. Paint something
  6. Write a poem or a song
  7. Make a friend
  8. Spend a significant amount of time on creative writing projects. See them through.
  9. Host a Friendsgiving
  10. Go backpacking
  11. Pay off my car
  12. Fill up a journal
  13. Apply for grad school?
  14. Give generously
  15. Use a personal day at work to do absolutely nothing by myself
  16. Re-do a piece of furniture
  17. Be a good bridesmaid
  18. Get rejected from a few things (it means you’re trying)
  19. See all the Oscar best-picture nominees
  20. Learn to cook something rated harder than “easy” in any cookbook
  21. Go on a week-long road trip, preferably to some places I’ve never been
  22. Fall in love, maybe.
  23. Go on a solo overnight trip
  24. Buy a bike, ride it a lot.
  25. Write some letters and send them.
  26. Volunteer
  27. Write some articles or essays and pitch to magazines/online media spaces

Author: Alex Ethridge

Hi, I'm glad you found me.

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