Turning 40

Yesterday I celebrated my fortieth birthday. Forty trips around the sun. Forty years of trying to figure out who I am and what I believe.

I had originally planned to write a post about being more aware of my mortality, accepting the reality that I will never have children, and how something on my body hurts almost every single day, but after gathering with a large group of friends Saturday evening to ring in my fifth decade, I realized I am far too blessed to be complaining about the little things.

My mother planned a birthday lunch for me on Friday, where I joined my sister, niece, nephews, and grandmother for pizza, cake, and ice cream.

Honey worked very hard to pull off a surprise party for me at one of my favorite restaurants on Saturday. I thought we were only meeting 3 or 4 people for dinner, so it was wonderful to walk in and see a long table filled with friends with big smiles on their faces! We talked and laughed throughout the meal, and then traveled to Betty’s for cake and ice cream.

Sunday brought a lunch with church friends, tons of text messages with birthday wishes, and visits from family. More celebrating will come tonight when we visit another friend’s house for dinner. I will probably have gained 10 pounds by the time the festivities conclude.

I truly have so much to be grateful for. I am happy with my career, my home, and my partner. Not only was it the week to celebrate my birthday, it has also been 9 years since I met the love of my life. I can’t imagine living without him, and I hope I never have to.

At the risk of raising the ire of the universe, I am content. Here’s to another forty trips around the sun…

The point of no return

The universe mocks me when I look in the mirror. I can see the tell-tale signs of a face in decline; eyelids drooping, a relaxing jawline, and a set of parentheses beginning to appear on either side of my mouth. Even though I’m rarely ever satisfied with the image looking back at me, I often remind myself that this is as good as it gets, because it’s all downhill from here.

Age is mystifying, cruel, and devious. It sneaks up on you, and you don’t really realize the consequences of it until it’s too late. I always told myself that age was nothing more than a state of mind, and I figured I could somehow miraculously stymie the march of time by acting/feeling/dressing young. I know, however, that even if I were to dress like someone half my age, I’m still going to feel tired, achy, and irritable at the end of the day.

My worries about aging seem to center around my appearance, but I don’t think it is really rooted in vanity. It’s more like not wanting to get a scratch on a new car or scuffs on a new pair of sneakers. I know it’s going to happen eventually, but I want to put it off as long as possible.

The older I get, the more attention I pay to the elderly. I notice their wrinkles and sagging skin, the way they have difficulty getting up and around, the way that most people don’t pay any attention to them. An elderly man that I knew once said that the worst part about getting older is that people stop listening when you talk. How many times have I disregarded the words of someone because I assumed their thoughts or ideas had passed some imagined expiration date? Probably more than I’d care to admit.

It is with a deep sense of dread that I recognize where life and time will inevitably take me. They say the alternative is worse, but sometimes I wonder if being robbed of youthful looks, health, mobility, friends, and a sense of worth isn’t just dying a slow, painful death.

Even realizing how cruel nature might be to my vessel as I age, I want the experience and wisdom that comes with the passing years. I just wish my face wouldn’t slide off my skull in the process.