25 / by Liz Brown

I’m turning 26 tomorrow.

I’m past the age of people writing cool songs about how old I am (what’s my age again?), but in the past week two people have guessed I’m 20 (thank you, Sierra), so I’m not feeling terribly old honestly. I have boxes from Horizon Line in the basement to make into a fort and I’ve bought a piñata that we are going to fill with lollipops on Tuesday. Parking lots make me want to dance like nobody’s business and so does the band COIN. I still don’t sleep enough, but I’m learning I function better if I do (maybe that’s wisdom or maybe I am just getting older).

Birthdays awaken nostalgia in me and they make me hope I’ve changed enough to qualify for graduation into another year of existence. Did 25 leave a mark on me? Am I changed? Has anything changed around me or in me?

Last year on April 30th, Brittany and Kassie and I were driving to New Mexico to wake up in a tipi on a snowy May 1st and I held a tumbleweed (that I named Terry) in the middle of nowhere. Best birthday to date and definitely difficult to top. In a small town with an old faded Wrangler’s store, I took a photo of a tattoo shop and captioned my post of it: this might be my year. And it was (I got 3).

Yet it’s easy to look back and wonder why I’m still here locationally. Why my feet haven’t moved more and to miss the fact that my heart has moved even as my feet have lingered.

But if we are talking physical miles, besides New Mexico, I’ve been to Kansas City, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis, not to mention smaller towns. But the worth of my year isn’t in the miles I’ve traveled. I’ve moved houses and switched jobs and yet the worth of my year isn’t in the places I’ve lived or the desks I’ve occupied. The worth of a year is in the living and the growing and the changing. And sometimes that is inside your tumbleweed soul.

My word for last year was fearless. I learned that sometimes looks like staying. My word for this year is love and I’m learning that sometimes looks like staying, too.

I’ve lost relationships and forged new ones (falling apart and falling into and sometimes falling hurts and sometimes things fall together) and I’ve learned that much of live is learning how to grieve with graciousness and joy and to keep hoping in deeper things. I’ve felt more pain and more joy than in any other year. I’ve sobbed in a bathroom alone until I lost track of time and I’ve laughed and ran with friends until I lost track of time, too.

I’ve learned trust isn’t the same as belief and that stopping isn’t the same as taking root and I still have much more to learn and bigger dreams to run for even as my roots grow deeper. I’m learning to ask better questions and I’m learning to listen. Ilana often asks me what I’m learning and I like that. I’m still not good at silence, but I’m growing better at it—it scares me less than it used to. I’m reading more, and that’s good for my soul, too.

Originally, I had a paragraph about the different creative things I’ve done this year, but I don’t want it to sound like I’m bragging. Please don’t take it as such. It’s just a landmark, but it can become a land mine if it becomes my identity. I am not my work. But I’m learning to work out of joy rather than identity. Magazine articles and a cover, CD covers, bigger shows, collaborations: it’s been a whirlwind. I’ve learned a lot about editing—that’s been my biggest change; I still like deep moody edits, but I’m ending the year with color because that’s how I feel on the inside: deep and colourful in a way that doesn’t quite make sense, but I feel my lungs filling up fuller and fuller these days and I’m wondering if this is joy and I’m wondering if I’ve never quite felt it before. I’m learning to use thankfulness as a weapon and I hope I’m learning to love, not just the feeling.

This is me, 25 for a few more hours. Messy and full and braver than I was last year. Less miles under my feet, more miles under my soul. I want my tumbleweed soul to keep taking root and to keep growing and maybe I’ll move this year and maybe I won’t but my soul surely will move—but not wander—and I will keep creating. I’m writing a list of 26 things to do before I’m 27. I’m learning how to rest, but I’m not slowing down. This year is good. I am good right now. I am alive and I am here and I am thankful. I've been laughing a lot these days and running just because I can and both of these feel good, inside and out. I feel alive, inside and out. More alive than I have in a long time. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for adding joy to my existence. Thank you for teaching me kindness and bravery through your words. Thank you for rooting for this little tumbleweed soul. 

Love always,