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Age 29

As 2023 begins, as does the year in which I turn 29. I have been writing 'Age ___' posts since an Age 20 piece, written in a pit of depression, that allowed me to feel as if life were tangible again. Since then I've found the process taxing yet grounding. Taxing because I want to document each year differently. Taxing because sometimes it feels like I've learned and unlearned the same lessons. Taxing because I hope others see themselves in these posts, they are not mine but an extension of myself I invite readers to identify with. Grounding because too often I choose to live in the past or months ahead, rarely in the present. Grounding because I disassociate frequently as a symptom of C-PTSD. Grounding because the title itself acknowledges I've made it another year, that I'm still here. Grounding because the closer I get to 30, the closer I get to an age I never thought I would.


To reflect upon Age 28 into 29, I have five analogies. After April 2022 I spent the rest of 2022 out of therapy due to financial constraints. I was only just beginning EMDR therapy. After April 2022 I left one career only to be returning to it full time by April 2023... My boundaries have been the firmest I've known them to be. I said goodbye without heartache. I became the five things I'd like you to hold in your mind as I describe them to you. Perhaps you were one or all of them too.


The jellyfish washed to shore and found by curious children.

They want to touch it. Know they shouldn't. Laugh about who will have to urinate on who if they do get stung. One stands arms crossed, telling them it's a myth. Another has paid enough attention in science to know a sting can be neutralised by acid. Mentions vinegar. The one I watch, sand brushing my underside, is the child with a bucket. They walk to the waves, fill the bucket and then gently push me into it with a spade. I am engulfed by salt. A temporary home. The child walks once more to the waves, pours me into the sea as the tide goes out.


Keepsakes in the attic you didn't know were there.

A tin of love letters to and from grandparents during a war. One lover sent far away, the other pacing between hospital beds, the smell of death thick in the air. Photographs bleached by sun and then dust. Familiar faces fading, others startling clear, your own, young and round. You are smiling. Storybooks crafted from scrap paper stapled together; the tales of a seven year old - superhero cats and dogs, Viking adventures and elves, a boy named Dudley. Keepsakes you leave as they are. Memories to be returned to but not disturbed in a whirl of cobweb and dust.


The rope swing rolled tightly around the branch it has been strung from.

It is finally safe from prying hands and its frayed ends, knots threatening to snap beneath the next adventurer wearing wellies, a hat, scarf and gloves. Close to bark it listens to the life in the tree. It wishes sometimes to snap and disappear. To unravel and devolve into the fibres and tree it was before this. Before it became a plaything.


Lavender.

Native to the Old World, carrying history, lives and medicine of mythical proportion in its invisible hands. English lavender takes 100-110 days to cultivate. It requires just right conditions. Too humid and root rot chokes from the bottom up. When loved, lavender is hand-harvested. It loses all its properties when bruised, but loved it'll wilt into a forever scent of sleep, comfort, reminiscent of honeybee summers. When loved, lavender returns, year on year.


Laundry on the line but not abandoned.

But watched from the kitchen window for any disturbance in the sun and warm breeze. Fresh cotton sheets opening limbs to the sky, billowing full of chance and opportunity. Laundry that will be unpegged, folded neatly, grass having tickled its toes. Laundry that will be taken indoors, maybe finished in the cosy humdrum of a dryer. Laundry that will be nuzzled for how it carries the wonders of lint, sunshine and the great outdoors. Laundry which whispers back in the stillness of the house; laundry which promises something new, or at least the feeling of newness, acknowledging the love it takes to wash away all that has come before and breathe in what remains, what will arrive if given time.


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