ten, twenty, thirty…

My 30th birthday’s coming up in seven months and a bit. I don’t know if this is a universal thing, but since I’ve turned 29, I’ve been in a major transitive state. Things have been clicking into place, and catharsis has been an almost weekly occurrence. It’s been really draining, as anyone who’s spoken to me at the wrong time over the last few months knows. Apologies to anyone who has tried to engage me in a conversation where I couldn’t even form full sentences.

For my birthday, I’m making myself a book. An emotional summary of how I feel about what’s important to me. It’s taking shape – part personal narrative, part monologue, sprinkled with poetry and visual and lyrical imagery. Testing my creativity. Been toying with the idea of making myself a mixtape too, once the writing’s completed. I wish I had had the foresight to do this at the end of each decade. Commemorating the turning points: 19 going to 20 was movement from London to Saskatchewan, post-university and post- some of the most traumatic years of my life. 10 was Khartoum to Muscat, and leaving behind my grandmother and learning responsibility for other lives in a one-week crash course.

This is probably the largest writing project I’ve ever done, and definitely the most personal. So far, my sections explore what music, scent, home, community, love, birth/death, language, womanhood, and colour (not as in race) mean to me and what roles they’ve played in my life. There’s an ode to the people who’ve helped shape me. Energy is everything, and I’ve been looking at my sources – they’re mainly the relationships I have had.

My guiding principle for the last few years has been “there’s complicity in inaction”. That was just an aphorism for a while, now it’s what I consider before I act, asking myself: How am I complicit in this situation? Heady question, and I hardly ever like the answer. Shows me the ugliest, laziest, most spiteful parts of myself. The best thing that’s come out of that though, has been learning how to forgive myself, and progress toward goodness. I truly wish I were only that noble.

The problem with this writing is that it’s been taking me away from two other major writing projects: my novel and a collection of poetry (more on both later). I can’t figure out which of these three is the most important.

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