A couple housekeeping notes to start. First off, you might have noticed I’m starting to write more regularly with my awesome blogging brotherhood, Your Other Brothers. It’s becoming tedious to continue linking my new posts on that blog back to this one, so if you’d like to continue reading my posts over there, go ahead and subscribe to YOB! I’ll continue linking those posts on Twitter and Facebook, if that’s more your jam. Secondly, I want to re-commit to blogging here weekly. Wednesdays feel like a nice place to start; hold me to it! Onward.

Last weekend, I celebrated my 29th birthday. It wasn’t as disheartening as I thought it might be living alone in a new city. I had two Couchsurfers on two separate journeys staying with me, and all three of us are artists of various sorts: photography, writing, and music.

I’ve now hosted seven people in my new home in just under two months, and this act of connecting with so-called “strangers” never gets old. Seeing paths converge in my own living room is a pretty special feeling. Helps me feel a little less alone in a brand new city.

Other 29th birthday activities included a potentially illegal hike to the top of a mountain overlooking the interstate and all of Asheville, tasting Ethiopian food for the first time, and a late-night showing of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at an eclectic Asheville pizza place / bar / cinema.

Never a dull moment in this city.

29 is for new life. 🇪🇹 #happybirthdaytome #ethiopianfood #ethiopia #avl #asheville

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It’s the final year of my 20s, and I’m unsure whether to be downtrodden o my soul or fearlessly recklessly abandoned. The thought of turning 30 next year is daunting. But the notion of acquiring some unofficial merit badge of wisdom transitioning from lost twenty-something to seasoned thirty-something is also appealing.

But alas, all those feelings shall be for my next birthday, not this one.

This year, I want to pursue renewed vulnerability with others. I want to plug into a new church somewhere, continue embracing strangers in my home, practicing hospitality, and inspire recovery with the kids at my new job as I pursue recovery myself.

And I’m certain 29 will also have a few adventures along the way.

You only start the final year of your 20s once. 📷: @sincerelybryan.jpg #happybirthdaytome #avl #asheville

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Reflective person that I am, I can’t help looking back at all the other birthdays in my 20s. Two birthdays ago, alone on Huntington Beach, I officially committed to a cross-continent road trip that would take me only God knew where.

Three birthdays ago, my first book, Struggle Central, breathed its first breaths. I’ll never forget the onslaught of texts and Facebook messages and emails I received in a 24-hour period, all in support of that momentous little book. I’m bummed that I’ve not followed up with a single publication since, but I have high hopes for this year. My #RunningTo book must see the light of day soon.

I can’t hold in these tales much longer.

And then four birthdays ago, I celebrated the quarter-century mark with a birthday baptism. That day, certainly that birthday, will always rank among — if not atop — my very favorite days of life.

And yet it’s hard looking back on 25 with some lingering angst, the majority of those past celebrants in the recorded video no longer present in the live-stream of my life. Friendships that changed or vanished, some because they left me and some because I left them.

Life happened after 25. As it tends to do.

I’m not bitter or angry. Just wondering how this saddling up for another go at community will go at 29 when 25 didn’t last.

Life happens, and it continues to happen, day after day, birthday to birthday, and this keeps things fresh, keeps things dynamic, I suppose. I’m not entirely sure where that leaves me in these first few heartbeats of 29. I do hope for the greatest year of my life ahead, though that’s a tall order considering the adventures and birthday baptisms of the past.

But I’ve already had Ethiopian food and strangers in my home.

And this is only the beginning of 29.