I have a birthday coming up. It’s still a few months away, but I have been stressed about it since one very ordinary day in December when I was shampooing my hair and it hit me–I’m gonna be older, again.
I thought of Sally:
“And I’m gonna be 40!”
Why is this birthday so stressful, I wonder? It isn’t a major milestone. It’s not a number where people will supply the party with black streamers and over-the-hill paper plates. I will not feel the need to start wearing spanx more often or buy anti-aging cream. But still, I am getting older, and I am starting to not like it.
I remember when I was 15 and my ballet teacher thought I was a sophomore in college. (Was this because I was twice the size of all the other girls and had boobs? Possibly.) I remember when I was 17 working at a restaurant in a college town and a customer asked what my major was.
I remember getting my first big-girl job and having people find out I was only 23. “What are you doing here?!” They’d exclaim. “You’re a baby!”
I was so impressive then, so far above the bar my age had set for me. But now people can sort of guess my age–late 20’s.
Late. Not early. The end instead of the beginning.
Yes, I have heard that 29 was the best year of so-and-so’s life, and that another so-and-so says you don’t have to have anything figured out until 30. I am aware that my body still functions and looks all right, that I have a job and a husband who loves me and you know what? I am still just a little bit sad.
Because I am feeling very, what’s the word, average? When I wanted to be special! At 28, I am generally where I should be in my life and career. There are things I wanted to accomplish that are taking longer than I thought they would to accomplish. Maybe I don’t even know exactly what it was I wanted to accomplish, but jeez I wanted to do something! Something that I could look back and say, “I did x when I was only twenty-something.”
I’m feeling those gorgeous 20’s slip away from me. And I’m looking ahead, staring into 30’s and budgets and suburbs and child bearing and mortgages and spider veins. It feels like an abyss.
I know at some point I will talk to friends who will tell me that we are each where are supposed to be! and that age is just a number! and I will make myself feel better and come out with some insight, maybe genuine, maybe not, that will help me cope.
But lately, I feel like I’m gonna be 40, and that someday feels like it’s tomorrow.