I am now “in my 40s”.
When I say the number out loud, it makes sense only in that I can add up all of the transitions, work hours, friendships, romances, apartments, travels and other experiences and recognize that I can’t possibly have been with Darren for 10 years and be 19 years into my career without also having aged.
But when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a woman “in her 40s” – despite the ever-increasing amount of white I see when I blow dry my hair. There are no wrinkles…yet. In fact, my face looks the same as it always has.
When my mother was 41, I was 14. It wasn't an easy time, and I can still remember the disappointment I felt when I realized no one in the house remembered it was my birthday. (Except my brother, Robert. Or was that my 15th birthday…?). My mother was decidedly old at 41. Bed-ridden, constantly ill, addict - she was miles away from her younger, prettier self. I didn't think about the future much at that time, but I’m certain my subconscious filed away what ‘the 40s’ looked like.
But the ‘40s’ are so varied! I have single friends who are in their 40s, friends (and family!) who have been married 20 years, and friends with babies, or young children, or even teenagers finishing their first year of college. So, who can really say what our 40s are supposed to look like?
I've never had a long-term plan, or even a 5-year plan. Every now and again, I'd set a goal, like “work in international tax” or “move across the world” and somehow it would happen. I have my next goal in mind, but I won’t mention it just yet (no, Siw, it isn't “having a child”!). And perhaps not having children - or a long career with one singular company - is why I don’t feel all the 41 years bearing down on me in one huge lump. Every few years, at least one major thing has changed for me, be it a new town, new job, etc.
So, what does this all mean? Yeah, I don’t know. How can I be 41 when I remember - so *very* clearly - my brother Kevin telling me to tie my own shoelaces when I was 5? Or all those summers at camp as a pre-teen? And my first prom, my college dorm room, my various exploits through my 20s, and the first time I saw New Zealand? Surely it wasn't really 10 years ago. Ten years ago I graduated college, right…?
I really thought I would be taller.
Maybe next year.