Today is my fortieth birthday. Don’t worry, I’m not going to complain too much. I joke about it, but I’ve long believed one shouldn’t truly complain about their birthday. Getting older is a gift denied to many.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t notice the changes…. Wiry gray hairs started showing up on the left side of my head (and only the left side of my head) several years ago. Not long after, deep creases began to appear on my forehead, undoubtedly the result of my patented “raised eyebrow eyeroll move” perfected during years of negotiations with defense attorneys trying to convince me that their terrible clients were actually “really good kids!!!”
I’ve woken up to searing pain in the middle of my back – pulled muscles or pinched nerves or who knows what, the result of…absolutely nothing.
I have come to accept that I have no idea what kids are talking about anymore. “On what”?? “On fleek!!!” “Huh???” “Nevermind.”
I realize I talk about “kids these days.”
Speaking of which, when the hell did Green Day become “Classic Rock”???
I guess the most striking thing about getting older is noticing how quickly time goes. Is it cliché to talk about how quickly time flies when you’re writing about getting older? Yes, but it’s my birthday so I get to do what I want.
One minute it’s January, the next it’s August. More concerning, I lose track of years. When I visited the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A&M a couple weeks ago, I was reminded of the bonfire collapse that killed 12 students several years before. In my mind, that event had occurred about 8 or 9 years earlier. When I looked it up though, I learned it had been seventeen years.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
…said the guy who’s now 55.
I have read that women in their 40s often find the confidence that eluded them all the years before. They no longer feel the need to justify themselves or seeks others’ approval. I think it’s true. At some point, you realize you can’t make everyone happy and, in the greater scheme of things, there’s really no need to try, so you just stop worrying about it. Trust me, 25-year-old Laura would NEVER have had a blog on the internet. (Of course it helps that 40-year-old Laura gets an email as soon as someone posts a comment and she can delete anything she doesn’t like. This website ain’t a democracy, kids!)
Being 40, and having gray hair and lines on my face, also means I get a lot less uncomfortable questions. For years (YEARS!!!), I was on the receiving end of the “Are you gonna have kids?” line of questioning. That was annoying. Not the questions, but rather the assumptions that came along with the questions. Let me explain something: If a woman is in her 30’s and happily married and she and her husband don’t have kids, they may not want to have kids, or they may not be able to have kids, but in either case, you should not tell her “But kids are such a blessing…” “You’ll change your mind” nor should you ask “So when are you having kids?” as if the alternative is not even a possibility.
Seriously. Listen to me: If you say these things, you’re being an asshat.
In any case, the gray hair has helped end those questions, and it’s lovely. Actually, now we get the opposite reaction. People learn that we’re voluntarily unemployed, spending our days traveling around the country doing what we want, and, after pondering the situation for a few seconds, ask: “You must not have kids, huh?”
HA!!! Indeed… We do not.
So here we are. The Big 4-0. Getting old? I dunno. I don’t feel like it. Absent a now bum knee, I feel pretty much the same as I did when I was 25. And I’m living the life I want to live with the person I want to live it with. I am thankful every day that we’re doing what we’re doing. I appreciate the people we get to meet and the experiences we get to have and I’m thankful for the friends and family who support us. We are having a GREAT time, and if it all ends tomorrow, I have zero regrets.
Of course, hopefully it won’t end. That would still suck.
I’m just saying if it DID end…. It would be less depressing than it COULD have been.
Whatever. You know what I mean.
In any case, Happy Birthday to me.
Here’s to 40!!