IMG_6153_1GUEST BLOGGER: E.B. Harper
E.B. lives with her six-month-old puppy, Smuggler, in a beautiful town center where all the guards list their blood types on their badges. They love seeing the Mediterranean every morning and pray for peace every night.

I would never live my twenties again no matter how much someone offered to pay me. I traveled to 35 countries. I lived on a pool flotation device in New York City for three months because it was the only bed I could afford. I moved thirteen times across four continents, finally invested in an expensive bed, and then proceeded to sleep in it only 211 nights in 950. I fell in love in a village where donkeys were the only street transport and I woke up every morning to the call to prayer. I attended church in a refurbished grocery store, a villa, a building in the middle of Japan’s mafia district, an apartment building, and an old convent. I never bought a couch or a car but memorized the entire lineup of Hertz’s compact rentals (never mind my various frequent flyer, hotel rewards, and passport numbers). I thought my thirties would be different.

Approximately five months before my 30th birthday I realized that was probably not going to happen. I agreed to take a position in Beirut, Lebanon, and admitted to myself that my wanderlust (like my asthma, sleepwalking, and teeth grinding) was something I may never grow out of. I needed to do something drastic. I had to prove that I could live with my younger self as an adult. I had to realize that the guy I thought I might marry had either married someone else or died, and I was never going to stick around anywhere quite long enough to find out. Either he would find me somewhere along the road or I would spend the rest of my life alone.

So I did what I had to . . . I bought everything I wanted off of my mental bridal registry. Matching towels, check. Cuisinart, check. An extravagant bird-themed duvet with matching pillowcases, check. Flat screen TV, check. DVD player, check. Bernese Mountain Dog, check. All of my credit cards got shut down and I knew that this shopping spree was, on some level, admitting defeat. I think if most people were asked which of the following they would prefer: life partner, party with all of your closest friends and family, or a food processor, few would pick the latter. But sometimes in life the materialistic gifts are the most attainable. Assuming it doesn’t keep a person from seeking out meaningful relationships, I don’t really see the harm in it.

I also started to prepare for the stress of the move (scheduled one week before my birthday). I think my best coping mechanism was the purchase of a 35-piece box of Pierre Marcolini chocolates in Belgium. I created my own advent calendar of stress. Each day as I hit what I thought was my low point of the day I would eat one piece of chocolate. There were days after my move when I ate my piece by 7:30AM. The first day I forgot to sneak into the chocolate cupboard I knew I was through the worst of it. I will never throw away that elegant empty black box.

When my 30th birthday came I woke up next to my best friend from college on a mattress on the floor with my dog barking from the furniture-less living room. There was no internet, cable or phone service. The hot water heater was broken and I had yet to figure out the schedule of the daily three-hour rolling blackouts. All of my belongings minus the three suitcases I had been living out of for the past 15 months were making their way across the ocean. But I knew that the deep down honest truth was that I could never have imagined it any other way. And maybe it’s okay to live your life so deeply hard and rugged that you can only survive it once. Whether a Cuisinart makes it any better is yet to be determined.

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