Almost 40: A Retrospective

It’s funny to think that as a teenager the thought of turning 40 sounded so old and yet here I am, weeks away from it, and I only feel slightly old. I’m reminded of my age at work sometimes as I eat lunch with friends who are in their 20’s who don’t get my pop culture references and me, theirs. As I hear about their late night adventures or group trips with pals, I nostalgically recall the time in my life when that was my reality. They share their dating stories and I’ll chime in with one of my old tales, “I once went on a date with a guy who unhinged his jaw as we ate sushi.” There’s entertainment in having lived a life. I’ve got the stories to prove it.

I can look in the mirror now and see what time has done to age my face. I can feel the creakiness in my knees and my hips as I take the stairs. After a few cocktails, I wake up with a slight headache and severely dehydrated after a night of fitful sleep. I prefer to go to bed at 10 because I will inevitably wake up before 7am whether I want to or not and I somehow need 8+ hours of sleep now to function. I don’t want to go to a concert if the main act starts at 10pm or if I am forced to stand in a crowded room of drunk people vying for a good position to see the performer. I don’t want to wait an hour for a table at a popular restaurant. I don’t care about having a lot of friends but rather, a small crew of A List friends suits me just fine. I live in suburbia and prefer it. I have a husband, a house, a career, a 403b, and a savings account.  I’m kind of a grown up even though I often feel like it’s still the 90’s and I’m still in my 20’s.

My teens were tumultuous: Alcoholic dad in a dysfunctional home. All girls Catholic high school education. Driving around in cars with friends with nothing to do but hang out, sing along to the radio, and dream. Delaying a four-year college for a two-year to stay closer to home. And then on the cusp of turning 20, my dad passing away.

My 20’s were marked by grief. I was angry and wrote a lot of mediocre poetry. I spent my free time in thrift and record stores, palling around with Jenny Two Times and Tomato and other friends, hanging out around the pool at my mom’s house, drinking wine coolers and sneaking smokes of clove cigarettes. I’d wear thrifted housecoats with Converse or mailman pants with bowling shoes. We were called “alternative” just like the music we listened to.  I lost a bunch of weight and spent a few years that way then gained it all back. I moved to Santa Cruz and eventually graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Women’s Studies & a minor in Literature. I went there with the intention of studying creative writing but the most I’ve ever done with that dream is become a blogger. I dated a series of guys who taught me a lot about love and heartbreak- they are a post or two unto themselves. I made friends and lost friends and smoked a bunch of weed. I became a women’s self-defense instructor which was probably one of the most pivotal experiences in my life. I worked a bunch of jobs: Michael’s Arts & Crafts, a pottery painting place, housing and admissions offices at UCSC, read books aloud for a blind girl, office administrator for a group home, volunteer coordinator for a youth empowerment organization, community educator for a sexual assault/domestic violence non-profit, and a development director for an AIDS organization. I had roommates, good and bad, and for the first time in my life, lived all alone.

In my 30’s I felt dissatisfied. Wasn’t I supposed to know what the fuck I was doing with my life already? I moved to Seattle and in doing so, everything changed. I learned to be an urbanite and a Pacific Northwesterner. I got lost a lot but now I know my way around pretty well. I came here with no job, just enough savings to get me through 5 weeks. I went on many interviews and turned down a bunch of jobs until I was offered the one I still have, almost 7 years later. I dated some guys, some good, some bad, and even had a few boyfriends. I lived in apartment for the first time in my life. I became an apartment manager which taught me a lot and helped me pay off my debt and save money for the first time ever. I met Mr. Darcy and our first seven hour date turned into moving into together, to getting married, to where we are today. I got through cervical cancer. I paid off my student loan debt and my car. I did a lot of grown up things, some of which sucked. My adorable nephew whose impending birth was the impetus for my big move, is going on 7. He likes to play Mario Brothers, and soccer, and have nerf gun fights, and would live on cheese and nut crackers if he could. I am forever indebted to him for being born and giving me the gumption to change my entire life. Seattle has been good to me and my 30’s allowed me to finally settle into myself. It’s where I found home, and love, and ultimately, the life I dreamed of.

What will my 40’s bring? I’m hopeful it will just keep getting better.

20 thoughts on “Almost 40: A Retrospective

  1. Lovely retrospective, Sizz. Having turned 40 only a couple of weeks before you, I hope your projections of things just getting better comes true for both of us. And having known you for the last (geez, how long now?), I can see the trend in your happiness, albeit with a few bumps here and there, continuing to rise. So maybe “we got that going for us. Which is nice.” (Your 20-something coworkers wouldn’t get that Bill Murray reference.)

  2. You’re amazing. Age is just a stupid number and for all you’ve experienced and where you’re at now, your 40’s will be freakin’ amazing!

  3. this made me tearful in happy and reminiscent ways…what a journey it has been for you; so many pivotal happy, scary, sad and beautiful events. i’m so proud of you. for sharing your life here, for taking risks, for rebounding, resolving and ultimately blooming into the woman you are today. much love.

  4. You very much have lived a life!! Despite the downs, it sounds like you’ve had some great ups. Happy almost birthday, and here’s to a coming decade of awesomeness!

  5. Speaking as someone on the up side of 50…The 40’s have been pretty good. I am looking forward to the last 4 years and the beginning of a new decade. It just gets better.

  6. I love looking back on my life and remembering how far I have come. It’s funny because I often think of the woman I was at 20 and now my daughter is 20. I’m in the process of helping her figure out where she will live next year. (She hopes to move out of her university apartment to a nicer off-campus apartment.) Part of me wants her to have the loveliest possible landing spot. Part of me thinks every shitty apartment I endured in my 20s is part of who I am today. Oh, and I’ve got 10 years on you and, trust me, you never feel really grown up. When I bemoan the “grown up” stuff I have to do these days, I mutter to myself “I’m 50 for Christ’s sake! When do I think adulthood begins?”

  7. I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately. Maybe it’s a quarter life crisis. Or maybe it’s just a lack of anything better to do. But I loved this post and you.

    I can’t wait to see all the happiness you will have in your 40s. 🙂 Happy almost birthday!

  8. This is so fun to read 🙂 Your 40’s WILL keep getting better because it’s you being authentic, and making the best out of both good and bad, and because you’ve surrounded yourself with love and people who love you. I’m excited for you to hit the big 4-oh (and not only because then I won’t be alone up here) – it’s a great adventure!

  9. Well this was a pretty perfect post of yours to start reading! I’ve been following you on Instagram and just this week figured out how to start reading blogs again on my phone after switching to an iPhone last year. Definitely glad I had yours in my list! I’ll be 38 on April 23rd so I was interested to see how you were feeling about 40. I kindof feel like I got the cheat sheet on Sizzle at the same time! You’ve done and experienced a lot in your life! I love that you let your nephew guide you to your new life and can’t wait to read and see all that this new decade has in store for you! Hopefully the best yet!

  10. When I entered CLUB 40 six years ago… it was the BEST thing to ever ever happen to my life. And I can only imagine it’ll be the same for you. Everything, I mean, EVERYTHING fell into perspective for me. Embrace it Sizzle.

    I had to chuckle at your comment about eating with your cohorts who are 20 years younger than you are…. majority of my coworkers are also in their 20s … and the stories I have shared with them have blown their minds at times. But I have no regrets and it feels great to have these memories behind me. And yes, a life WELL LIVED!

    You share your birthday with my mom.

  11. I really do think life gets better with each decade. (Despite the crow’s feet and decreasing alcohol tolerance.) What great stories you’ll have to tell your nephew (and future babies!). I am so glad I got to experience the 90s in my 20s. There was something sort of sad and magical about that decade. Love it.

  12. You have such a story so far, I can only begin to imagine what’s ahead for you. And you have managed to not take it for granted, which is amazing in itself. Cheers to the next 40, and happy almost birthday!

  13. I love this! I’m only 26 but sometimes I look back on high school and college and think… man was I crazy! I think I’m already crossed over into adulthood because I’m already over a lot of those things too (staying up all night, waiting for an hour at a restaurant, going to a late crowded concern).

    I think you’re only as old as you feel! Keep rocking 🙂

  14. Oh and I should add, I’m so glad you did start blogging and that I happened upon your blog because knowing you? Even just through the blogsphere has made my life better.

Comments are closed.