To celebrate our ten year anniversary, we are inviting back former writers back to tpc in order to hear what they’ve been thinking about since leaving the post calvin. Today, please welcome back Rebekah Williamson. Rebekah (‘12) grudgingly lives in Grand Rapids again after five years spent basically everywhere and anywhere else. She interviews people for a living under the guise of “research” and has a fondness for collecting pottery, innumerable jackets, and recipes she will never have the time to cook.
On the eve of my thirty-third birthday, I stand in my kitchen, four days unshowered with fresh stress-acne blossoming across my sweaty forehead, violently shredding a hot eggplant as meal prep for tomorrow’s dinner. My husband stands beside me quietly cursing the carrots he’s peeling while we listen to an audiobook about British octogenarian detectives.
Yes, we are basically the embodiment of “thirty, flirty, and thriving” that Jennifer Garner portrays in 13 Going on 30 circa 2004.
It’s 8:38 on a Friday night and I am nowhere near anything that can be described as “cool” nor am I in any distant relation to “on trend,” “put together,” or “coping-reasonably-well.”
In this way, not much has changed in the last ten years since I first started writing for the post calvin. My bedtime is roughly the same (9:03 p.m.), and my determination to postpone writing assignments until the last chaotic minute is undiminished (hence writing this sixty-three minutes before it is due). However, my external circumstances have vastly altered since my twenty-third birthday.
Ten years ago I was living in Budapest, Hungary, working as a kindergarten–eighth grade English teacher. My work day began at 9 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. Lesson planning was suggested, not mandatory. Housing was covered by the school and I had a transportation stipend. Meals cost roughly three US dollars. I lived with one of my closest friends and we spent each evening sharing bottles of Hungarian reds, watching Gossip Girl, and planning weekend excursions to Vienna.
In case you aren’t getting the picture, I had no responsibilities and was loose in Europe. So yeah, externally, my life is quite different.
In celebration of the post calvin’s tenth anniversary, I’m writing a side by side comparison of my 23rd and 33rd birthdays.
Think of it as Bekah through the ages.
Or, in keeping with Taylor Swift, I will manifest my own Eras tour with full expectation of comparable fanaticism.
October 28, 2013
(On a one week school break traveling through Europe)
Rome, Italy — specifically, Vatican City
Saw the Sistine Chapel, breathed in the beauty of centuries of art and faith.
Young, fit in the “I ran to catch the bus last week and have consistently eaten seven servings of goulash for dinner every night for a month but can still wear anything I want” kind of way.
Craved fresh authentic tiramisu—received fresh authentic tiramisu.
Cat-called on the cobblestone streets on the walk back to the hostel.
Traveling to the sun-drenched coast tomorrow where I will eat endless fresh pesto gnocchi and bask in the Ligurian Sea.
October 28, 2023
(Saturday, following a normal week of work)
Grand Rapids, Michigan — specifically, my house, the one I pay an exorbitant mortgage for
Saw my daughter color Matchbox’s tablecloth yellow. Breathed in the germs and mucus my son coughed directly onto my face.
Less young, fit in the “I strap screaming children to my body and rake the lawn and may still be wearing my maternity underwear because I like the way it stretches” kind of way.
Craved peace and quiet—received neither.
Cat-stalked on Lake Dr. by felines attempting to lick the breast milk stain off my new sweater.
Having my in-laws watch the kids tomorrow so we can sort basement clutter in preparation for the plumber to install a new pipe in the floor so that sewage won’t get backed up into said basement.
Similar levels of joy, adventure, and freedom span the decade. Barely noticeable, infinitesimal differences in location, environment, and responsibilities.
In some ways I have changed, grown, and matured. For example, we are getting new windows installed and I am thrilled. Like exhilarated. Moved to tears of transcendence. Windows are sexy to me now as Benedict Cumberbatch was in 2013.
Can’t wait for my forty-third.
If you are a former writer and interested in contributing this year, email email@example.com
Rebekah (’12) teaches English as a second language at Grand Rapids Community College. She does not drink coffee nor purchase Apple products.