Saturday, August 13, 2016
Today I am 47
I am 47 and not 37 or 27 or 17, but I so fortunately keep seeing all these friends from when I was in high school, and somehow those 30 extra years seem impossible.
How am I suddenly 30 years older than 17? Math has never been my strong point, but I do grasp the basic march of time. It is how things seem to work, but still.
One day you wake up and you have this new number and you don't quite know how you got there.
Does this happen to other people?
It's not that I'm upset about my age. Not at all. I'm such a better, happier, kinder, more confident human at this age. I like myself most of the time. I like this life.
I spent my 37th birthday drinking wine and crying all day long. I was certain that nobody would ever marry me, because I didn't have the right resume for DC. I kid you not with this. And that I was destined to die alone.
On my 27th birthday I was in graduate school in DC, not knowing what I was doing with my life. It was a good summer, mostly, but I still cried a lot because I always used to cry regularly, and plus by August I was only a couple months from sliding into my annual winter depression, what with the shortening of the days and such.
When I was 17 I talked about how fat I was all the time. I thought about how fat I was all the time. I starved and exercised and still, how was I so fat? I said that as soon as I grew up and had enough money, I'd have the fat sucked out of my thighs. Seriously. I went on and on about it.
I was just talking about this with Kristin, who I saw in Denver. How obsessed and unhealthy we were.
I now like those previously hated thighs.
I'd like to tell the 37-year-old that the whole DC resume thing is such bullshit, and she was never going to marry someone who bought into it, and that in just over a year she'd meet someone, and in two years she'd be immensely pregnant and wondering why her baby didn't magically appear on his due date.
I'd like to tell the 27-year-old that she should ask her doctor for some antidepressants, because it would make grad school, dating, and really general life a hell of a lot easier and more pleasant. It would make her more pleasant.
And I'd like to tell that 17-year-old that she was beautiful and smart and interesting. And that life is so much bigger than being skinny enough, whatever that means. And that whether or not someone wants to go out with you is not a measure of your self worth or attractiveness.
I'd also like to borrow her blue Mary Quant mascara. Because that stuff was awesome.
In any case, I'm not sure how much liposuction costs, but if I had that chunk of money to burn, I'd now hop a plan for a weekend in Paris. I'd happily take these thighs, the ones with which my ancestors walked across the prairie, along for the ride. They are strong, and fine with me.
Now, I must say that I miss my old boobs and stomach, but I wouldn't trade my children for them. I'd like many fewer wrinkles, and in fact, thanks to Botox, I do in fact have a few fewer wrinkles, and this delights me.
A friend said she wears her wrinkles proudly, as she's earned them. But for me those deep furrows between my brows were earned through too much stress, and I'm happy not to wear them.
My friend Kristin, who is one scant week older than I, keeps referring to herself as a middle-aged woman. When I saw her in Denver I was all, I don't understand why you keep captioning your photos things like, "Middle-aged woman setting up a tent!" and "Middle-aged woman making s'mores!"
She said, "WE ARE middle-aged." She pointed to her face. "This is the face of middle age."
And yes, yes, we are middle-aged, and I don't actually mind my age, but I hate the moniker. She and Maude said it's because traditionally it means old and frumpy. And we are not. So we should work to redefine what it means.
In theory, I like this idea.
I mean, first and foremost, I present myself as a family person with small children. A very tired, loving, occasionally locked in the bathroom with a glass of gin, family person.
I'm not trying to pawn myself off as some young hot thing. And yet I am not ready to embrace the concept of middle age.
Now, on the upside I realize that I'm truly lucky not to be an Olympian or an actress, because by this age I would be considered so over the hill.
Whereas as a plain old regular person, nobody is saying such things. So I feel pretty lucky, you know, to not be an Olympic athlete or Hollywood star.
Although on a side bar, don't you think if you won an Olympic medal you'd get naked as soon as you were home and dance around the house wearing nothing but the medal?
You know I treat my birthday like my own personal New Year's Eve, and I think about what I learned and accomplished in the past year.
In terms of accomplishments, I got an article published on The Mighty site. I took a storytelling class and got up in front of a big crowd and told my story. I mostly did a lot of procrastinating and not writing on my book...
I learned a lot, however. There have been some big learning years in this past decade.
Last fall I reconnected with a bunch of Peace Corps friends I hadn't seen in 20 years. And I learned, once again, that deep friendships endure through time and space and distance. And that I am lucky to have those people in my life.
I learned that damage and trauma from my past can resurface at the most unexpected moments. And until you see it and name it, you cannot understand it, but it sits inside you corrosively until you do.
In this past year, learned that while I believe myself to be so strong, I'm much more vulnerable than I think, and that I am lucky to have not only a very loving family, but a whole loving village.
Today I learned that while Thomas Wolfe may be correct, you can't go home again...you can, for your birthday, get the same Stan Smith sneakers that you wore in high school. The ones that were just like your dear friend Nicole's.
Big hugs and love,