In the societal realms, I’m supposed to be maudlin, wallowing in the fact that I, like every other living thing on the planet, am aging. My debit card should be melting at the edges from being swiped so many times at the make-up counter, procuring anti-aging serum, eye cream, wrinkle reducing power plumper, and the myriad of products produced to further remind us that we are undeniably ugly. My usual wardrobe is now to be accentuated by “slimming” and “shaping” garments to make sure that the outside world is exquisitely fooled into thinking that I truly do have the body of a fifteen year old girl. Nowhere permitted, are the telltale marks from having carried, birthed, and breastfed three kids. The softened curves of age are a curse! Quick! Hide them!
All at once, I am supposed to do everything in my power to look like a teenager, and yet, not appear as if I am trying to look like a teenager. Because then, of course, I would look “pathetic” and “ridiculous.” The Artist will not allow me to wear capris anymore, stating with grand eloquence that unless they hit at the exactly correct position on a woman’s leg, they make “your butt look wide and your legs look short!” So my wardrobe is now thinned even further. Shorts that are too long are capris, and shorts that are too short are “trashy” or “slutty.” Sometimes wearing a cami with a pair of jeans is “hot,” and with shorts can be “cute,” but other times, it just looks “wrong.” Is it any wonder I’m completely confused?
Instead, let me share with you how I will be approaching my 40th birthday. (Yes, I do have a few weeks left, as it isn’t until 07/05.) First, the weekend of my actual birthday will be spent with my family. If I could afford to bring the kids on the Big trip, I would do so in a heartbeat. But unfortunately, it can’t happen. So we are taking them to Niagara Falls to see the fireworks, and also will show them our “history” by showing them the apartment where the Scientist lived as a teen, our University, our first apartment and duplex, and other places we used to go. I plan to bring them to the Anchor Bar so that they can have a real Buffalo chicken wing, from the originating kitchen. We’ll also hang out with their first babysitter and our old friend, the Quiet Man. And then later, at the end of the month, comes The Big Trip.
My original plan was to spend 10 days bumming around Morocco. However, the idiocy that is our world governments (and yeah, I’m eyeing you too right now, USA) has put the kibosh on that idea. So instead, I am resorting to my old standby, the islands. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you — but there are other parts of the world I really want to see. Unfortunately, budget, time, and stupid war games preclude those excursions for now. So I’ll island hop for a week, and figure out that way where I then want to go spend a week later. For example, Sint Maarten comes highly recommended from a few people whose opinion I trust. I did ponder just going there for a week and being done with it. But the explorer bug had already bitten, so I will spend the day there, and most likely it’ll hit the top of the Must Go Back List after I do. The places I will be that week include: Puerto Rico, St Thomas and St John, Barbados, St Kitts, St Lucia, and Sint Maarten. A perfect way to celebrate, if you ask me.
But I will mark this milestone in other ways, as well. I am participating in SoFoBoMo this year. My project will be about my life as a 40 yr old, and how I see myself. It provides me with a bit of introspection along with a creative outlet. I’m really looking forward to it, actually.
All three of my kids are now college students. The Ambassador is done with school, and walks across the stage on Saturday morning. Amazing thing, the passage of time. He turned 16 last Friday, so he is now hitting a bunch of milestones himself. He is handling them pretty well, not getting tripped up too much. The morning that I dropped him off at school for the one final exam he was not allowed to be exempt from, I called his father. The Scientist is quite excited that he will now get that half hour each way of undivided time with the Ambassador that I have had for the past five years. I will definitely miss it, but as per usual, I am not weeping or misty like so many of my counterparts. Maybe some gromet got tightened too far or something; I just don’t leak well. Anyhow, I called him and said that I’d dropped the Ambassador at school, and then said, “Oh wow, I’m supposed to be upset, aren’t I?” I then launched into a sobbing rendition of, “I just dropped my last baby off at school for the last time!” and then asked the Scientist to rate my performance. After he recovered from choking on whatever he was drinking at the time, he said I did fine. Good to know I can pull off normalcy when I need to!
As my life slowly materializes into something that is “mine,” I find that my biggest goal on turning 40 is to be more of myself. I have hid, apologized for, and faked who I am for so long, in so many ways, on so many levels. I’m at a point in my life where I’m just done with the pretense, done with worrying over what everyone else thinks, and I’m done making an effort that drains no one else but me. I may well lose some friends in my life at this, but if I do, well, then not only is it their loss, but it’ll show me who was there for their own gains and who is in my life because of the relationship with me as a person. But the bottom line is that I will no longer live in fear, and anyone who doesn’t like it can drive-thru and have a nice day.
So as usual, I’m not “normal.” Big surprise, right? I’m not hiding it, mourning it, forgetting it, resenting it, bitching about it, or living in shame of it.
I. Am. Turning. 40.