it's 4:30 in the morning, and i am almost thirty.
ok, that isn't entirely true. it is actually 4:40am and i won't be thirty for two years. i just turned 28. i am almost sure that that is true. (since i have had kids, i have had a very difficult time remembering my age. i think it is due to a cocktail of hormones, exhaustion and trying to pretend that my kids' birthdays are more important than mine, when secretly i love my birthday the most.) but, i went an entire year thinking i was 28, only to turn the real 28 this past june. repeating that year made me take my actual-age-remembering more seriously. now, i won't forget. i am 28, two years until i turn thirty.
i realized this so fully, because i just woke up from a dream where i was sitting on the floor in the back seat of my grandfather's car telling everyone that i was thirteen. i kept saying it, over and over (like an actual thirteen-year-old would. how annoying would it be to be thirteen again? i can't even stand the thought of myself.) anyways, i kept saying it "i'm thirteen, really... i am!" the car was jam-packed with so many people, yet was still somehow unusually spacious. i was sitting on the floor, and on the seat above me was my friend lexi's brother, lindy. (don't ask me why he was there, i am pregnant and my hormones are even making my dreams do irrational things. i am completely out of control.)
so, when lindy looked at me skeptically at my last profession of being thirteen, i slipped. i vowed "i really am fifteen!" busted.
he looked at me with a little pity, and patted my back like i was his elderly grandmother. (i have met lexi and lindy's grandmother, she's seriously cooler than i am, and isn't really elderly elderly at all. but, when she gets super elderly, i know how her back will feel when it gets the you-poor-old-thing pat from lindy.
the thing that startled me out of this dream was not what one would expect. it was not the sudden realization that thirty "looms" in the distance. it was not how roomy grandpa's car inexplicably was, it wasn't the fact that lindy would let a pregnant teenager sit on the floor, while he took the seat... it was the fact that i lied about my age (and probably also because i was sleeping on my back, which forces my fetus to squish my bladder, which is always packed to the brim.)
but the real shocker here was that in my dream, i did not want to be older. in my dream, i was ashamed. i was so ashamed in fact i was willing to be thirteen again. that is the true horror that made this go from dream to nightmare. the reason this is so shocking to me is because a long time ago, i read a stupid article, by a stupid woman, in a stupid magazine that focused on stupid topics. in this article the woman seriously lamented over turning thirty... how thirty was the beginning of the end, how much your thirty-year-old body has changed since you were 20, how all the good times were behind her... on and on it went. she alluded to not being able to find a good man, and believed in large part that it was because she was getting old. even in my irrational dream state i could have told you that she couldn't find a good man, because she was so bitter about being thirty she couldn't see past the end of her nose... not because there was actually anything wrong with her, or being thirty.
from that article on, i vowed to embrace what would inevitably come. the age 30. i've actually collected a great deal of data in the past several years, and have found a few things out. 1) most of the woman i knew in their thirties had more money than i did, were smarter, had decent husbands (with the exception of the bitter article-writer who hates herself), and many had jobs that they loved, and/or children they loved even more than the dream job. 2) most the women i knew seemed a little more comfortable than i did. they knew what they believed in, and were fine with it. they dressed how they dressed - whether good or not great - and they were fine with it. they seemed to be in a stage where they kind of accepted who they were. they weren't unchangeable or anything, but they were done with the uncertainty of the twenties.
here's is what all my data-collection has taught me. (now i am only a stupid twenty-something, so i am probably wrong... but here goes nothing.)
the teenage years are marked by one major thing: we think we know everything. we are immature, kind of awkward for most of these years, and despite knowing everything... we are extremely insecure. for me personally, these years were also marked by big hair and being gangly. seriously, my brother-in-law dan, used to come to my volleyball games in high school and say that my knees looked like oranges on toothpicks. unfortunately, i graduated from high school in 1999, so i don't have the 80's to blame for my bad hair... unlike those lucky thirty-something subjects of my research at the time.
if the teen years are marked by thinking you know everything, then the twenties are marked by realizing you know nothing. if you thought you were insecure in your teen years when you knew everything, imagine the insecurity that comes when you move in to a dorm with strangers and realize you possess none of the knowledge you swore you had, and your parents lacked. in reality, the twenties are spent figuring out what you believe, who you are, who you hope to become and other tid bits of the like.
i started my family in my early twenties, so i can't say that it was a bad stage for me, just a lot of not really knowing enough about who i was. i got pregnant before i was married (exhibit a. in the case to prove that i knew nothing as a 20-year-old) so figuring out who i was and who i wanted to be, was perhaps a little difficult, because i was "wife" and "mama" while i was also "student" and "waitress." i know that not everybody knew as little as i did, but if we are honest, we were all pretty stupid in our late teens/early twenties. this is a safe place, and you can admit it here.
enter turning thirty. i think the thirties seem to be marked by self-awareness, improved self-worth and self-acceptance. i think the self-focused self-discovery of the teens and twenties, free women in the their thirties to be more focused on others (in a good way.) having done the research, turning thirty is not at all scary to me. in fact, i cannot wait to turn thirty. i really am completely excited about being in my thirties. i once told my friend kathy that for my thirtieth birthday, i was going to throw myself a huge party, and i was going to send out invitations that said "come to my party, i am turning 30, and i want to celebrate with all the people who helped to make me fabulous in my thirties!" kathy pointed out that that sounded a little arrogant of me, and that maybe i shouldn't brag about how fabulous i was in my thirties, since i was only 26 at the time. i think kathy was right, but she was also 29, three years closer to being thirty... which explains why she saw the flaw in my invitations, while i thought they were brilliant. stupid twenties.
i am going to skip to the forty-somethings now. women in their forties seem to go one way or the other... if they embraced their thirties and loved every minute of it, they are even greater in their forties. if, however, they fought their way through the thirties kicking and screaming, this is when the mid-life crisis hits. i think that the women who go bananas during their forties, are the same women who were afraid of turning thirty. you can't stop it, so it makes you crazy. for the women who don't go bananas, the forties are a time where the start putting themselves back on the to-do list (again, in a good way), and they buy things they have always wanted, but didn't really need at the time. the forties are when i will get really nice bedroom furniture. i am forty, i have waited a long time for this, i want a nice headboard.
fifty and beyond are admittedly, a bit of a mystery to me. i am currently conducting research about these years. i will say, the earliest trends in the data suggests that the more women fight the aging process, the more likely they are to go bananas. these are scientific studies, and i can't expect all of you to understand... so just try to keep up.
it's like this: my first car was a chevy something. i think it was mostly a chevy celebrity, but i don't for sure what kind of chevy it was because it was such a piece, that it had a trunk from a different kind of car... which is where the car type is written. (i'm sure it is written elsewhere as well, but i was a teenager - i knew nothing, and didn't know it.) the car was a gray matte finish, with a black trunk with a glossy finish. i had one hubcap, total, and no spare tire. i did, however, have a spare steering column in my black trunk, which was a bonus. so, the car was obviously not a lease from a dealership. the fact was that it was a piece of crap, but it was my car, and it was the only one i would have.
so, when i kept putting mile after mile on that car... i had two choices. i could pout and whine and complain about what was inevitably coming... or i could throw myself a little party every time the odometer hit a big number. the big number was coming either way. sure, it was tempting to covet the nice honda accord with all it's hubcaps, when i was out of gas at a busy intersection (with a tail light out and my keys locked in the car) but what good would that have done? i was still going to have to pry my foggy window down, climb in my crap car through the window, fish out the keys, dig in the trunk for the empty gas can (next to the spare steering column) and walk to the gas station. when i did that, i would drive my car until it hit 250,000 miles or until it died... whichever came first.
turning thirty, or turning 130 is sort of the same thing. you either will or you won't. i will either turn thirty or i'll die, whichever comes first. as far as i can tell, we can't stop it... nor should we want to. i would never want to go back to knowing less, being more confused, less sure. i especially wouldn't want to go back just so i could have my 20 year old body again... it would be nice, but i wasn't crazy about it when i was twenty, who's to say i would appreciate it any more now? so, the fact remains... it doesn't matter what kind of car you are driving, it's the only one we got and we're packing on the miles one way or another. if my odometer reads a big number, that just means i went a long way and the car didn't die. how can this be a bad thing?
i have to pee again. and eat a plum. happy aging!