Sometimes you wake up and you realize you are now thirty-nine. Or more accurately, sometimes you are going to bed well after midnight because you are doing some work for a consulting contract after your kids have gone to bed and you realize that it has become your thirty-ninth birthday, and you say, "F--k! I'm thirty-nine."
In response to your cry, your husband, who is well past thirty-nine himself (which is one of the nicest things he's ever done for you), assures you that it's good to be thirty-nine. He says, thirty-nine is a good age because you spend it coming to terms with the fact that you are almost forty and what that means to you, so that by the time you turn forty, you're happy to be forty. He says that you're still young, unlike him who will turn a really advanced age on his birthday next week. You take this all in and reiterate your plan that all future birthdays of yours will be celebrated as anniversaries of your thirty-ninth birthday. He says that he will know how old you are even if you do that. You give him a dirty look and take comfort in the fact that when he's senile (which will likely be sooner than you are) you will be able to shape his reality to your advantage.
Sometimes, on the day before your thirty-ninth birthday, you are picking up your kid from preschool and are driving by the college campus that is in the same neighborhood and you realize that all those college kids, even the seniors, were born in the nineties, which is the decade in which you went to college. Those were good times and it blows your mind how quickly time has passed since then.
Reflecting on all these things later, you recognize that this, too, is one of the best times of your life and that there are some positives about turning thirty-nine, and because you like to make lists, you do so:
- Being a life-long curmudgeon, you feel (to paraphrase the character Nick on New Girl) that you are finally starting to age into your personality.
- Sure, your thirties went fast, but that's because you spent all of them being madly in love with five amazing guys, and you note that you're getting really good at figuring out how to use the time you've been allotted on earth.
- There's a brief window in our culture in which women are neither too young to be respected or too old to be relevant. You have the sneaking suspicion that you may now be in that window and you should use this power to your advantage to create some social change.
- Your age, coupled with the fact that you are happily married to a man who is so attracted to you that sometimes, when you are not in the mood for romance, you have to be careful not to touch his arm in a friendly way, means that you can put to rest the tiresome sex-object bullshit that plagues younger women. You can go to the Y and focus on keeping your body strong and have compassion for the young women who feel they need to wear perfume when they work out. You vow that you will never again wear a thong or uncomfortable shoes or get a bikini wax for the rest of your life.
- Watching your husband in his forties, you know that it really is possible for a person to get better with age.
There now, that's better. Happy freaking birthday to me!