Oh, to be 30 again

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Quiet, warm air hovered over West Seattle as my neighbor’s yard was filled with party goers, waiting to surprise the birthday “boy.” Being more sensitive than most, I knew that this atmosphere would later probably bring a storm. But the only storm in this yard was the sound of party goers shouting Happy Birthday surprising the one turning 30. He had finally arrived home after a lengthy diversion. His father had conveniently accompanied him out to the hardware store while the partiers gathered in waiting mode. You know how guys like to browse for man gadgets. It is almost like women browsing at Victoria’s Secret.

My wish to integrate the age groups was finally granted as my fellow and I mingled with preschoolers on through twenty somethings into thirty and forty somethings and beyond. A black walnut tree formed a canopy over the picnic area. Farther out into the yard was the wonderful play equipment erected for the resident children who could scoot down the slide at their heart’s content.

One young woman wore stylish four inch heels so she didn’t venture out onto the lawn. Probably we oldies should have stayed on cement as well but we managed to amble out to find lawn chairs arranged so that visiting could provide congeniality. The grandparents were wonderful in helping with their grandchildren and serving the guests. We oldies were pampered by being served with rich chocolate birthday cake—“No, don’t get up. We will bring it to you.”

As usual I brought what I call my Grandma Moses handmade birthday card which said, “Don’t look now, but someone is turning 30.” Then on the next page was a picture of a very sexy woman and I had written: “You don’t need her. You have a wonderful wife and three beautiful young children. So enjoy being 30.” With the support of caring parents this couple vacationed for a few days. I remarked that it was great that their parents were caring for the children and this was the reply, “They might want to come over to your house for some help.” And I supposed that I would remember some tricks of the child rearing trade to share with them.

As my fellow and I left the picnic I joked with the 30 year old saying, “We are both Masters now.” At first he didn’t get it but then I mentioned that I also had attained my Masters Degree. Yes, after bearing four children I finally topped off my education with a summer quarter that gave me enough credits to gain it. But this young man is going for his doctorate as well. Great expectations for someone with a young family.
I remember those days of doing graduate work. It doesn’t seem like it has been so long ago that I struggled through all those summers and finally completed it all.

The University of Washington has produced many educated people who have gone out into the world to make a difference. Now if we could figure out how to change the world for the homeless, Seattle could be proud. But we all know that we are in a global economy and Seattle isn’t the only influence on the people who live here. With people like my neighbors doing so well it gives me hope that life will improve for many more who also have dreams. For those who don’t have the means to attend college or do not have supportive parents it will take the help of the greater society. Even Bill Gates complains that he isn’t taxed enough and finds ways to give some his money away. Wish more people had his problem.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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