good lordy, she’s forty

In ALL, INTROSPECTION by Stephanie Klein4 Comments

Almost. As I’ll tell my dermatologist today when I file the new patient forms, I’m still 39. At least for five days. I find this aging business comforting, especially to know that my memory is getting dodgy. I think we’re meant to lose our minds as we age, if for no other reason than to propel us into an orbit of denial. In denial, anxiety is kept to a minimum. Ignorance is bliss.  Take my Straight Up & 30 slumber party. It feels like it might’ve happened four years ago. Denial. Another example: we can look back at photos and actually believe that we look mostly the same. Maybe men have less hair and women see fuller, higher cheeks, but, we shrug, that’s me, that’s me still.

You’re not going to see me posting photos of myself flexing at the gym, attaching hashtag #thisisforty. Just as 10-year-olds don’t go splashing on and on about their age, I don’t plan to broadcast it. I’m not embarrassed by my age, and I’m not boastful. I don’t praise my children on things of which they have no control, so why would I make a big deal over forty?

I appreciate gifts. Oh, I really do. The idea of a party has been brought to my attention, by way of several phone calls that go like this:

Chica, I really want to do something to celebrate you. Please, I’ll do all the planning. Whatever you want. I’m at your disposal. I’ll make you proud. Think of all the people you haven’t seen, who you’d actually like to see, and use this as an excuse to reconnect.

Shaking my head, I say, “I’ll think about it.” But I know I won’t. I despise the expectation of having to make a big deal blowout over 40, in particular. When I celebrated 29 with a big bash, where my worlds of friends collided, camp friends, school friends, work friends, etc. I didn’t like it. I wasn’t able to connect on a deep level with anyone because I was so preoccupied with showing gratitude over people actually showing up. Traveling to be there. Introducing people. I despised it. I adored my 30th birthday more than I can say. A vineyard tour, getting drunk with my closest friends, a weekend slumber party full of comfort foods. It was ideal. But to try and replicate it, it will never be as good.

I feel like the only 40th Birthday party I’d actually want would be to rent some cabins at a camp, and have an adult camp experience, with alcohol, and the lake, boats, campfire and a guitar. Playing jacks on the wooden floors. Being a camper with my closest friends. Connecting to one another and with nature. Stripping away the stuff and reconnecting to who we are, deeply, and who we’re meant to be.

I like attending birthday parties, sometimes. Less so, if I’m being honest, than when I was in my 20s. I’m a HOMEBODY. I like staying in and working on my computer, designing and coding, reading, doing watercolors, creating collages. Experimenting.

I’ve already told Phil what I want most. To travel to Thailand, new camera in hand. The gift of experience, to make a memory. One I might forget given all this aging business, but with the camera, I’ll capture what I choose to remember.

 

Comments

  1. Happy almost birthday! I’m so happy to see you posting more often on here. Now for the important question: what kind of new camera did you get?? xoxo

    1. Author

      I have yet to get a new camera, but I know I’m due for one because Phil’s camera is better than mine! And Phil’s camera is old! His is a Cannon 5D Mark II. I have a Nikon D300 (professional grade). Time to shop!

  2. Happy early! Forty is weird (and I’m 4 years past it).

    My mother was 40 when I was 14, and believe you me, she and I seemed to inhabit different realities, with different languages and beliefs. I felt like she kept intruding in mine, and I judged her with the cruel eye of an adolescent. Though I never spoke it aloud, I attributed every exhibit of frustration she had to “menopause”. Ugh, I was insufferable.

    Later in life we were incredibly close, for a few years even living in apartments adjoined by a balcony. She was with me when I gave birth, and I held her as she died. She was my best friend.

    But at 40? I thought she was an alien. Now I’m in my 40s and I desperately wish I had her here with me.

    She would be laughing at how lucky I am to have teenage sons only, for while I wrote her off as “menopause”, she wrote off my antics as “teenage girl”. (Lord, we were a pair.)

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