I remember when 40 seemed old. Hell, I remember when 18 seemed old. Starting high school and thinking how old and cool those seniors were – and they could drive cars! Of course, now I see high-school seniors and think they are totally ridiculous, in a sweet sort of way, like Peeps or the concept of Easter Bunnies – and they don’t know anything! Including how lucky they are to have so much time, so few responsibilities, and such hot bodies.
When I wake up tomorrow morning, I will be 40. I’ve been trying to muster the requisite sense of self pity, or anger at the unjust passing of time, or something like that. But I can’t.
Now, you all know me, but in case you don’t REALLY know me, let me tell you this: I’m no Pollyanna. While I believe in unicorns and happy endings as much as any child does, I’m smart enough to know that life is more hard than easy, more surprise than plan, and that expectations fall away just like wrinkles creep on. I am a cynical realist.
And it is with those realistic and cynical eyes that I look at my 40 year old self. And I have to say, I see a lot more “woo-hoo” than “boo-hoo.”
First of all, I’m seriously hot. Way more so than when I was young and thought I was hot. Not only am I in better shape, but – and these are the important parts – I’m in better shape because I earn it AND I have a hell of a lot more appreciation for this body and what it can do than I did when I was younger. As it turns out, it’s that appreciation that makes you feel hot – not the size of your jeans or the ability to bounce a quarter on your abs.
Speaking of appreciation, do you know how many cool things you can do and people you can meet in 40 years. Holy cow! Someday my awesome daughter will be old enough that I can tell her about all the sex, drugs, parties, travel, mishaps, embarrassing moments, new loves, shared discoveries….. And all the pain, torment, rape, disappointment, fear, moving, and breakups with friends, lovers, and family alike. When I was younger, those were all isolated pieces of either bliss or horror. I now know that every single one of them only reaches it’s full power when combined with all the others, and if I missed a single one of them – good or bad – I wouldn’t be me. I like me. Which means I have to like all those moments.
Those moments have left me with more colorful wigs than anyone who is not in the circus should own. I’ve worn them all. Dress ups is way more fun at 40 than at 4. My closet is filled with jeans and t-shirts, leather and PVC, silk and fur, fishnet and fake fur. I was just looking at it and thinking, “that is the closet of a seriously cool chick.” Or at least, a chick who leads a seriously cool life.
My life is pretty much nothing like I thought it would be. I married my best friend only to find out that I married my best friend, and that might be different than what I needed. I became a mother only to realize that meant dealing with how I felt about my own mother, and that might not be something that I wanted to do. I started a company only to find out that means being shit-flat broke and stressed out, which was not at all what I pictured. For a while there I even became jaded, self-pitying, angry, anti-social and misanthropic – with a little arrogance and self-righteousness thrown in to justify never bothering to REALLY connect with the people in my life.
But that’s not who I want to be. No more than I want to be 4 again, or 18, or even 28.
So I’ve spent the last few days looking at old photos – and even looking through all my Facebook friends and remembering how and why each of you came in to my life. And it’s a lot like looking at my closet. Incredibly diverse and an obvious reflection of a life well-lived.
So here’s where it stands. At 40, I think I really like myself. And I think it’s okay to say that. Because I earned it. And I’m really excited. I think the last 40 years have been a dress rehearsal. I know my lines now, I know my character and I am totally ready to take the stage.
Woo Hoo! Lift the curtain, light the lights. 40 is the new me. And it’s gonna be a great show.