I still remember the day in sixth grade when my best friend Hally and I sat down and calculated how old we would turn in 2000. The answer was 32.
I had a pretty clear picture of how my life would be then: I’d would be living in the city, most likely down in the Village in the same building on 8th Street and Mercer where I got my hair cut by Anita, the punk rock stylist, with the hot pink leather couch to match the streak in her hair, and the zebra rug and the shiny black Felix clock. I’d have a pink streak too only me, I would have a bigger apartment–a loft probably. Whatever that means, but it sounds cool, right? And I’d have a small round roller rink in the living room–nothing major, just for practicing spins. And I would have to raise the ceilings to get a disco ball up there, but that wouldn’t be too hard, right? I didn’t think I would be married yet, because world-famous writers didn’t do that quite so soon (I mean, just look at Fran Liebowitz!) but I would have a lot of boyfriends. Maybe three at a time. They would have cool names too, like Mark and Scott. And I’d have a lot of roller skating parties. Probably an MG Convertible too.
Oddly, the fantasizing about our future lives sort of ended at the millennium. Like I never even considered that there was life after 32.
And now here I am, ten years later, turning 42.
How did that happen?
I think the older I get, the less conventionally celebratory I become. Not that I don’t love birthdays. But I do think that having a 9/11 birthday in New York City kind of tones the celebration down, and forces you to be more reflective than you might be otherwise, taking stock of your life and what really matters. Because let’s face it, one morning you wake up to a gorgeous, clear blue sky and the next, there are two ginormous towers crumbling into toxic dust right in front of your eyes.
Honestly, these days I’d rather spend an hour with my toes in a salon pedicure bath and my head buried in the crossword, than at a bar doing shots with friends. Although come to think of it, today I plan on doing both. So there.
A lot has changed for me this year. I went back to work full-time, while still somehow managing to run Cool Mom Picks. Uh, also full time. I have two girls who are old enough to need me, and to really really feel it when I’m not there for them. I have a sigOth who’s now working actual daytime hours for the first time since I’ve known him, meaning we’re almost like a normal family these days.
Well, not really. But normal for us.
It’s all forced me to cut back on my blogging here–let alone my blog reading and my blog commenting–which makes me die a little inside, but is also what I have to do right now. And I think that part of this boring-getting-older-maturity kind of business is just that; putting the needs above the wants. My id is pissed. It will get over it.
This doesn’t mean I’m all business though. I’ve also felt more urgency to do the things now that I have always dreamed about–traveling more, writing a book…hell, maybe Nate and I will even start planning a wedding one of these days. He did send me a text message this week that read Hey, quick birthday-related, nothing to get excited about question, but what ring size are you? Again, do not read into this…
(I did not read into it. Mostly.)
I’m not sure if all this reprioritization is about some annoyingly cliché, looming threat of mortality that becomes evident in your 40’s, or simply the understanding that this is the one life we get, whatever it may be. My mother always reminds me that there comes a point in middle-age when you simply have to acknowledge that you will not win more Oscars than Meryl Streep, or quarterback for the Giants, or marry Scott Baio. Or have that roller rink in your living room.
How you react to that understanding is what defines your character.
I choose to recognize that not achieving all dreams doesn’t mean I haven’t achieved any dreams. Besides, I’ve still got some time left.
You know what’s funny? When I was 32, I did live in the Village. In a sweet little loft, exactly 3 blocks from that apartment on 8th and Mercer. There was no roller rink in the living room, but I totally could have fit a small one in there, if only the co-op board wouldn’t have freaked out. I had a writing career and a few boyfriends and two shiny Ericofons from the same era as that Felix clock.
I liked where I was then, but I wouldn’t go back to it either.
I think what I’ve got going on now is pretty darn good.
Are you where you thought you’d be today?