I have officially spent 35 years on this little spinning blue hunk of carbon that is hurtling through a vast infinity of space. In that time, I’ve cried often, loved often, laughed often. When I think about the many ways in which misfortune befalls others, I am reminded it’s a miracle and a blessing that I have lived through 35 years of joy and disappointment.

My life is changing a lot these days. When I think about where I thought I’d be at 35, I feel a vague sense of disappointment and anxiety — that the many things I thought I would have accomplished by now, I haven’t accomplished. And yet.

This year I started running regularly despite being certain my whole life I lacked any ability to be athletic in any way. This year I crossed a long-ass suspension bridge despite my fear of heights. This year I learned to *really* ride a bike and now using it as a primary form of transportation despite having resigned myself a decade ago that I would never learn. I hike regularly, despite the fact that I have never thought of myself as an outdoorsy person. In a month I’m going to get my diving certification, despite the fact that open water actually frightens me. I helped a friend clean out traps in the woods filled with giant centipedes and ant larvae. I’ve tried bouldering, dancing, playing the erhu, riding a scooter, eating blood (which was previously on my “I will not eat” list), learning curse words in Taiwanese.

I’ve become a person I never could have imagined I’d be.

I am trying, these days, to embrace the life I have, instead of wishing for a life I imagined I’d have.

Yesterday, at one point, I looked around at this basement bar and realized that it was full of people I had met only in the last year or so. And I had somehow convinced them all to put on their finery and drink fancy cocktails with each other. I was brought a homemade cake by people I’d only met three weeks ago. I was written lovely cards by women I’d only met three months ago. I was given homemade zongzi by a girl I have only met three times. I was bought drinks by people who held me and said they saw strength in me. My favorite bartender kept my neighborhood bar open just for me. A friend called in sick to work so she could hang out with me til the early morning. And friends took me to karaoke until 8 am.

This is not a humblebrag, but a catalog of love and gratitude. I feel incredibly blessed to have found such loving people in this country that I love, this country that is starting to feel a lot like home. This is a good life. I wake up every day happy to be where I am. Every day I don’t question if my life is a wasted one; every day I know that whether or not I write today, all of this living is in service of my life’s work, which is, yes, to write (and to write one must live), but also to change and be changed for the better. Which is to say, I hope what I write leaves this world a little bit better than before, but also I hope that the relationships I cultivate might also do the same thing, for all parties involved and more.

I’m 35, which is young enough to still feel like what lies ahead of me has potential, but old enough to feel that at least a third to a half of what I might do in this lifetime is behind me. I hope I’ve done some good.

Here’s to the next 35 years. May it be filled with as much love as I’ve been blessed with until now. May I become ever more courageous, thoughtful, and kind. May I laugh often, but feel safe enough to cry. And if I could make a book and a baby somewhere along the way, that would be nice too. 🤣

Thanks all, for being part of my life. I wouldn’t have survived without any of you.

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