Welp, I’m 30.


20-year-old Kyle takes a birthday photo!

Today, I turn 30. I’m not sure it’s hit me yet. Maybe it won’t. I mean it’s just a number, right?

I find myself trying to think about all the life lessons I’ve learned over the last decade. What I have yet to learn. Where my 20s started. Where they ended. How much has happened. How much has remained the same. How much will change over the next decade.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in some sort of hyperdrive, where people decades older than me are recounting some life lesson they just learned and I’m thinking, “Um. Yeah. Of course that’s the case.” Typical know-it-all millennial, right? But other times, I’ve felt like I’m stopped or even in reverse, watching people my age pass by me. In some way, they’ve moved on and I haven’t.

But then I remember those lovely words of wisdom everyone loves to impart but not actually listen to themselves: We shouldn’t judge ourselves based on what others are doing. We shouldn’t care what they think, either.

As I think about things I’ve “lost” over the last decade, by far, my mother is the first thing that comes to mind. My immediate next thought is that 20-year-old Kyle would’ve been like, “It’s not like she was ever around in any meaningful way anyway.” Maybe not, 20-year-old Kyle. But the option was there. The chance that things might change was there, even if there was little hope they ever would. Now, it’s not possible. She’s gone.

As I think about what I’ve gained, the first thing that comes to mind is a fiancé. Like, what?! I mean 20-year-old Kyle may have expected to be at least engaged by 30, maybe, but I don’t know. I also find it fascinating that the first loss that comes to mind intersects with the first big “gain” that comes to mind. I would’ve loved for my mom to be able to meet him. I have to wonder if that would’ve been the same case if she were living. Would I have really cared?

I then of course think about how all of it — what I’ve lost and what I’ve gained — translates into growth, or at least change. And I think I’ve changed so much. I’m not even sure I can list the ways. It might be easiest to just say I’ve matured. Priorities have shifted. Thoughts and actions, words and deeds, have shifted. I’ve started paying attention more. Listening more. Being silent more. (Stop shaking your head in disbelief. I have!) Loving more, or trying to.

When I started this decade, I was still in college at the University of Florida. Since then, I’ve changed cities, changed careers, gained friends and lost friends. I spent most of the first year of my 20s single and ended my 20s engaged. Hell, I couldn’t have even gotten legally married back then had I wanted to! All anyone needs to do is just take a quick, contemplative look back to see the ebb and flow of life.

Society has changed so much, too. I mentioned marriage equality above, but it’s so much more than that. Technology has changed. Politics has changed. People have changed. Society has changed. And, honestly, it’s all kind of flown by, especially over the last few years. And yet there’s still so much more to do in the world. I suspect there always will be.

I’m a big fan of trying to be forward-thinking, so here’s what I hope for the next 10 years:

I hope to love more. 

I don’t just mean romantic love. I mean love in general. And love, for me, isn’t just something you feel. It’s something you do. I hope to do more for others. I hope to get to know them. I hope to better understand them. I hope to listen more. I hope to be a better servant leader.

I hope to listen more. 

Everyone knows I’m a talker. I always will be. But that doesn’t mean I can’t listen more. Like, actually listen. I find I enjoy listening and getting to know people. But also, I hope to listen to nature more. I hope to sit in silence more and just listen to what’s going on around me. There’s such serenity and peace in just listening in silence sometimes. Plus, it can help you think.

I hope to learn more.

I’m naturally a lifelong learner and I swear by it, so I definitely plan to keep that up. There’s just so much to learn that my challenge is often narrowing things down enough to focus on one thing at a time. Which reminds me — I should probably try to be more patient, too!

I hope to say “YES!” and get out of my comfort zone more. 

I’m a safe zone kind of guy. Sometimes, I’ll do enough to appear as if I’m going out of my comfort zone, but actually doing so is more rare than I think people think. I certainly talk more about it than I do it. I’d like to change that. I’d like to say “yes” more often to things that might prove to be fun or worthwhile in some way, even when they sound scary. Especially then, perhaps.

I hope to care for me more. 

I’ve worked pretty hard on this over the last few years, but I can certainly do more to improve self-care — mind, body and spirit. Again, I go back to just relaxing and sitting in silence to quiet the mind. Hopefully, I can meditate more and finally go to a damn yoga class. As for my body, well, that’s an easy solution — just start exercising and being more active. Sounds so simple. Ha! For my spirit, I think I’m doing pretty great at that lately, if I’m honest, but I hope to focus more on this in the future. I’m looking forward to it.

I hope to act more. 

Self-care is definitely important, but so is action. I want to sit on the sidelines less and do more. Whether it’s helping people in need, advocating for the rights of other people — I want to be there. I want to do more.

It’s been a great decade and I’m really looking forward to the next one. Even for all the shitty stuff I can think of that happened in my 20s, I can think of ways I learned from those experiences. While it’s admittedly a little weird to be 30, I don’t see it as “old” or anything like that. It does feel like a chapter has closed and a new one has opened, which is probably kind of silly because it’s just a number, right?

I think I’d be missing an opportunity, though, if I didn’t take this moment to think about the past and how it can help me be better in the future. I’m thankful that I have such wonderful loved ones to help me along the way and I look forward to helping them, too. So here’s to my 30s and beyond!


On Life And Death

Dancing At My Friend's Wedding

I’ve just returned from Jacksonville. I was there for a beautiful wedding of two beautiful friends. They seem so perfect for each other.

At the wedding, I couldn’t help but think about my future wedding and what it’ll look like. I couldn’t help but think of the one I love. I couldn’t help but think of how awesome it’ll be to be surrounded by family and friends who came just for me or just for him…or for both of us. I couldn’t help but think about how great it’d be to one day make a naturally personal thing so public. As I watched my two friends do all of this stuff among their friends and family, it just made me so happy for them. And it made me so happy at where I’m at in my love life. Watching two lives merge into this joint life was just…great.

In a few days, I may very well be sitting in another place with another group of family and friends celebrating the life of another friend. Only this time, we’ll be celebrating his life because he’s dead. This friend was in his 20s. He was someone I worked closely with for three years and still regularly talked to. I helped him come out. I ran with him. I screamed at him and laughed with him and everything in between. He was a hell of a cook. When he laughed, he sounded like a woman who had just seen the funniest thing in her life. At work, we’d roll our eyes. Now, I can’t help but realize how memorable it was. How nice he was.

I’m not the guy who thinks that we should gloss over our feelings about people in death. I think we should be honest about who they were and what they did. Sure, we naturally think of the positive things, but I think a person is more than just the positive stuff. I know in my life, the negative things I’ve done or my not-so-wonderful actions/emotions have also shaped my life. And they’ve made all the positive stuff even better.

When I die, I don’t want it to be an opportunity for some pastor to try and bring more people to his religion. I don’t want it to be entirely sad. I want it to truly be a memorial. That means lots of music and lots of laughter. I want people to know that I was sometimes an ass and didn’t mean to be – or did. I want people to know that I tried to help others when I could, but wasn’t infallible and knew that. I want people to know that I loved and loved fully when people deserved it. I want people to know that I was gay. I want people to know that I talked a lot and was frequently obnoxious. I want my work friends to talk about my singing showtunes as I produced the news. I want everyone to know how much I loved them and how much I loved the love of my life.

When I get married, I want my wedding to be beautiful, filled with love from all sides, romantic, special…awesome. I want there to be tons of singing and laughter and food. I want dancing. And while I haven’t figured out the whole garter thing quite yet, I know Daniel and I will come up with something!

What’s funny to me after spending the last few days simultaneously thinking about a wedding and a funeral is how many similarities I think they should have. The biggest difference I can think of so far is that I obviously don’t want my funeral to be for another century or longer, but my wedding better happen MUCH sooner than that! Oh, and I guess I won’t technically be at one of them (or will I?!). But they are both celebrations, just for different reasons.

I’m begging you to tell those you love that you love them. Not in five minutes. Now. You never know what could happen and while that fear of the unknown shouldn’t dominate your life, it should encourage you to live each moment as if it is your last and make sure everyone knows how you feel about them. Now is the time. Regret sucks, even when you can try to make things better. I can’t imagine what it’s like when you can’t.