Reflection: On Turning 25

25 years old.

25 years old.

As I’ve mentioned, this blog is a springboard into the memoir that I’m working on about love. While the blog will look at the years 1983-2013 (ages 7-37), the memoir focuses on the years 1992-2012 (ages 16-36). On this blog, I am publishing 30 years of my journal entries; in my memoir, I am writing about 20 years of love — from my first kiss to my family of four.

As I work on my memoir, I turn to my journals as a source of inspiration. I kept detailed notes of my past relationships, so I’ve been lucky that I have my journal entries to jog my memory.

Yesterday, I was working on a chapter about the relationship I had from August 1999 to March 2001 with a man from New Jersey/New York whom I met in-the-middle-of-no-where Wyoming. He was 11 years older than me — and when we broke up, I was turning 25.

25. Why is that age so significant? I’ve written a lot about our 20s versus our 30s, but what about that salient age of 25? In my journals, I talk a lot about turning 25. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m 25 in almost a month. Everyone freaks out about this birthday. The guy who signed me up for my gym membership and I talked about why. He said, the “life goals” aspect of it — meaning people start to think about where they are in life. He said I’m probably not freaking out because I’m on track, doing what I want to be doing and thinking about it.

At the time, I thought I was “on track,” doing what I wanted to do. I had just finished graduate school classes, and I had just started my semester student teaching high school English in a Chicago suburb. My career was “on track.” I was in a long-distance relationship with the man I thought I would marry; my plan was to move to New York when the semester finished.

Plans change. They always do. Two months into student teaching, I knew I wanted to be a teacher but I wasn’t sure I wanted to move out east to start my career. I’m a Midwest girl. Lake Michigan pumps through my blood — and once I moved to Chicago, I felt at home; I didn’t want to leave.

There were many reasons why the guy from New Jersey/New York and  I broke up — and if you stay with this blog, or my memoir gets published, you’ll read all about them. But I think a big factor in our break-up was the fact that I was turning 25.

25. I found my career and I wanted to start it, but I wanted to start it in the place I wanted to call home: Chicago. When I signed my first contract a few weeks after I turned 25 at a school in another Chicago suburb (the same school I teach at today), I knew my relationship was truly over. It had ended a few weeks prior, but — as break-ups often do — it took awhile for it to be over for good.

When we broke up (over the phone), he actually said the words: “oh, you’re turning 25, no wonder.” At 36, he knew what 25 meant. Twenty-five is when things start to change, begin to turn over — the slow march toward the machine.

For me, it would be five more years until I got married and eight more years until I had my first child, but at 25, the notions of responsibility and “settling down” kicked in. My career and my city were chosen — and the rest was soon to follow.

How are you feeling about turning 25? OR Was 25 a milestone year for you? 


2 thoughts on “Reflection: On Turning 25

  1. 25 was very much a milestone year for me. I had been living in Montreal, had just moved back to the Midwest, was finishing school, ending a nine-year relationship and starting a new one. I still can’t believe how long ago it was, because it just doesn’t feel like that much time has passed.

    Love your blog! I have journals going back to when I was 5 years old, but I’m not as brave as you to go back and read them! Though I did scavenge through some of them when I wrote my memoir (still revising that beast…).

    • Julie, thanks for reading. Memoirs are beasts; love that! Interesting how you were getting out of a relationship too. I don’t mention this in the post, but of course it comes up in my memoir: I jumped out of that relationship into another one with another man who was much older than me. That one didn’t last either, but it took me two years to figure it out!

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