From inside an independent coffee shop in one of Cincinnati's many neighborhoods.
31 isn't really a big damn deal.
Turning 10 is a big damn deal because you've finally hit the Big Time - double digits - and your mom just starts to break on that argument about why you should finally get your ears pierced (or why you should be able to wear earrings bigger than a nickel.)
Turning 16 is a big damn deal because you finally get the right to drive. Some will tell you its a privilege - but legally you have a right to learn the rules of the road and take a test with some sweaty fat guy who basically holds the fate of your independence (and ergo coolness) in his fleshy, grubby hand. Once you turn 16 (I know some state laws have changed since I was a kid), you're allowed to sit behind the wheel and actually drive away from your family home without listening to the Beach Boys or Cat Stevens wailing on the tape deck. Granted - my first set of wheels was that of a gray Plymouth Reliant two-door with an eight-track tape player (and all the Peter, Paul and Mary I could ever want), but that's another story.
Turning 18 - that's a big damn deal, too. If you're a guy, Uncle Sam has your name on file and can call you up to serve for the Stars and Stripes against your will if needed. Girl or guy, hitting 18 means you're considered a legal adult and can tell your parents to suck it if you're so inclined (something I don't recommend - especially if you're going to be hitting those same parents up for a tuition check for the following 4+ years).
20. Ditto. Big Damn Deal. It's the decade where you're officially thrust into the real world (off the family payroll, as my mom likes to say) and expected to figuratively stand on your own two legs. Big Girl Job - yippee! Your own apartment - yippee! Paying your own bills - well that's not so yippee. That's more like yipp-oh?
I don't even have to explain 21, other than I think we can all agree that birthday is pretty much BDD TO THE MAX.
I think 25 is debatable. It's kind of sandwiched in there between so many other insignificant years. But then there's that whole Quarter Life Crisis phenomenon. I guess since John Mayer wrote a song about it, ABC News did a story about it - QLC must be real. Hell, it's even got it's own website. So yeah, 25 is probably a big damn deal, too.
And 30 is DEFINITELY a Big Damn Deal. Most Americans celebrate it with some form of fanfare - think weekend in Vegas, the rental of some kind of party bus complete with its own disco ball and fully stocked bar, gifts of the naughty variety - people in the U.S. are committed to ushering in this utterly responsible and family/career driven decade with serious Debauchery. Yeah - I used a capital D on that one for a reason.
I haven't even clocked a week into this new year and I'm already beginning to feel very, uh, Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here. That's not to say my birthday was blah. It actually was very phenomenal and involved all kinds of good surprises and even a bit of decadence that I won't spill here, but the occasion was enough to prove to me a just-turned-30 31-single-girl-searching-for-her-way-in-the-world can still have a rip roaring time.
So what are the 30s all about?
I still haven't figured that out.
But one year in to this phenomenal (at least that's what they tell me) decade - I think the big thing about the 30s is just marching to the beat of your own drum... and not giving a flip what other people think.
So march on, baby.