I turned 35 in Paris.

In some ways, it feels like I was 17 just a few years ago. Wide-eyed, sharp-tongued. Eager to pick up a full hand of mistakes in the next decade or so. I can picture myself so clearly then… it feels tangibly recent.

But at the same time, I feel solidly 35. And I mean that in a good way. I’ve softened in areas and strengthened in others. It’s been good for me, this slow and steady path of aging.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have this kind of fear of 35, but I’ve always held a bit of a fascination with this age in particular. Back at 17, in my tiny bedroom in Pennsylvania, I would stay up late to watch Sex & The City and think.. that’s it. Not some timeline of matrimony and motherhood that everything else was feeding me. I wanted exactly what those 35 year old women had. The big careers, big romances, big fashion, big city.. all on their own terms. That was it for me. So I spent the next decade and a half chasing it. And now? I think I just might have a version.

Along the way, there has been nearly as much broke (wallets.. hearts..) as there has been built. More lessons learned the hard way than any easier alternative. But in another 17 years, when I look back on myself in these photos, I hope I feel proud of the progress.

From here, the future feels unnervingly unknown. I suspect there will be more mistakes along the way. More growth too though. And if I need a point of reference – there’s always my original favorite female foursome… The Golden Girls. Carrie’s heels and Sophia’s handbags seem like a winning style combo.