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.