Turning 30 in Bushwick

Katarina Hybenova



Jeremy Nguyen



So you turned 30.

It crept on you almost unnoticeably while you swooshed down Jefferson on a bike.

You turned 30 while you were smashed against some six bodies in the 8:30 a.m. L train. You turned 30 while like Ulysses you roamed from Alaska to The Johnson’s. You turned 30 while an airborne droplet of your sweat vanished to steam before it touched a melting roof on a Bushwick summer afternoon.

You turned 30 while you were making commitments as small as a right swipe and as big as signing a two-year lease to freeze the rent on your Bushwick apartment. You turned 30 while working a soul-sucking nine-to-five job in a soulless Midtown building; and then again while quitting to freelance and to be your own authentic self. You turned 30 while you went back to the nine-to-five because authentic selves are overrated and biweekly checks don’t get enough credit.

You went big three O while ordering eggs benedict and a bloody mary. You turned 30 while saving and eating only at that taco joint on Myrtle, Wyckoff, Wilson, Flushing … You turned 30 while skipping an endless shift at Bushwick Food Coop and then when you couldn’t show your face there at all. You turned 30 while shopping straight from the line to the basket at Trader Joe’s at Union Square. You turned 30 while curating your Instagram feed; while ditching your Facebook profile; while obsessing over that acquaintance who either unfriended you, or never accepted your friend request to begin with.

You turned 30 while swearing you loved Bushwick Open Studios only for its art and then got trashed on cheap beer under the blistering sun at a Bushwick Block Party.

So you’re 30 now, but nothing has really changed.

You’re still the same young, fun creature you’ve always been, maybe just a little bit wiser and better looking because by now you know very well what looks best on your body. Sure, being 30 freaks you out a little, because that day from: “I wanna do bungee jumping before I wake up one day and I’m 30” has come, and you still haven’t jumped. But it cannot be that bad because the sun has literally risen once again from behind the trees at Maria Hernandez Park, and it’s pretty.

You’re 30 now, but that’s fine because you now have in a live-in partner, a graduate degree, and a small savings account. You’re 30 now, but it’s okay because no one can tell just by looking at you—all your friends swear you look 26 at most.

So you’re 30 now, but that’s okay because you drink a green smoothie at least once a week, and buy your trendy clothes whimsically—from a mobile vintage trailer.

So you’re 30 now, but that’s okay because you’ve seen [some] world and made [some] art.

So you’re 30 now, and instead of blowing out 30 candles, you inhale 30 cheap whiskey shots.

You sober up 30, because sobering comes with an aggravated headache and a wish you didn’t exist anymore.

You sober up 30, because a casual walk by the Evergreen cemetery, leads you to remembering with a jolt of terror, that you too will die. You sober up 30, even if you thought yourself immortally invincible just last week Friday night, you’re not.

You sober up 30, and a panic attack reverberates through your body at the mere thought of a wedding ceremony. It’s not the commitment that freaks you so badly, it’s the incessant planning, the money, the family, and the Facebook announcement liked exactly 589 times.

You sober up 30, and realize that according to your pre-college plans you were supposed to be a homeowner by now. You sober up 30, and load Zillow on your phone to see how much a railroad two-bedroom goes for these days in Bushwick or Ridgewood. You sober up hard. You sober up 30, thinking of the condo down payment you turned whiskey-liquid during your twenties. Those too are gone.

You sober up 30 to realize that you not only have college loans to repay, but also a big fat prominent grad school one. You sober up 30 when you realize your graduate degree has been good for exactly two things, none of which you can say aloud without offending your elderly neighbor.

You sober up 30 when you realize that according to your parents’ schedule, you would be parenting a first grader by now. You sober up hard when you check Zillow and realize that Bushwick public schools rate 3 out of 10.

You sober up 30 because Bushwick was supposed to be just a stop while you were young, poor and beautiful, but you’re still here, living in the same apartment only your rent has doubled.

You sober up 30 exactly because you still live in Bushwick, and that’s actually not bad at all. You sober up 30 and hey, you don’t look too bad. 26 at most. All your friends swear …

Do you have a Bushwick experience you would like to share in an essay format? Have you lived here your whole life? Have you just moved here? Have you just moved out of here? Did you just turned 18, 30, 40, 50, … in Bushwick? Do you live in Bushwick as LGBTQIAPK? Submit your essays here.

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