40 is coming. Or rather, I am currently rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell toward my 40th birthday in June. If you smash my twin sister and I together, that is 80 years of twinny “us-ness” on this planet. Scary stuff.
I didn’t think 40 was going to bug me. After all, 40 is the new 30, right? We are a FAR CRY away from the 40th birthday I remember my mom having, complete with coworkers stringing black streamers everywhere and outfitting her with a cane and veiled black hat to go with her “over the hill” cake.
That just isn’t what 40 means today. Think about who else is turning 40 this year. Reece Witherspoon. Ryan Reynolds. Melissa Joan Hart – Sabrina the teenage witch, yo! Keri Russell – awesome first name to match her awesome looks! 40 ain’t nothin’ at this point, right? I remember thinking when Jennifer Aniston turned 40 (7 years ago, people,) that 40 was spectacular. That all you had to be by 40 was a grown-ass version of you. (With apologies to Troy from Reality Bites, because none of us knew ANYTHING at 23, really dude.)
But therein lies the rub. 7 years ago, 33 year old Keri was, if I remember correctly, putting some fairly substantial pressure on herself regarding her Jesus year, and thinking that “way far off into the future” of Keri-ness, at the ripe old age of 40, she would finally have gotten it together as a grown up.
Guess what? NOPE.
I am a warmed over mess. Don’t get me wrong, it is my warmed over mess… this is my 40 year old bed, I made it and I can lay in it, blah blah blah… It isn’t the whole “I’m so damn old, woe is my aged self” thing that has me reeling, although I do confess feeling kind of old of late. It’s the nagging “shouldn’t I feel like a dang grown up by now?” question. I am like, way far into this dog-and-pony show, right? At what point, exactly, am I going to stop feeling like I should be calling my mom to come and pick me up from this charade, because it MUST be way past my curfew? The ghosts of Keri-ages past would be pretty disturbed to know that at 40 it was all still going to be feeling like a total crap shoot. That sucks, yo.
I briefly considered diving into a good old-fashioned midlife crisis- but dipping my toe in those waters by taking an ill-advised shopping trip in the Juniors’ section for clothes that look ridiculous on me, drinking like a 23 year old at the neighbors’ house, taking on a bunch of contract work in all my free time so I can “do what I love,” and otherwise generally acting “un-Keri” just left me feeling embarrassed and desperate and old.
Man, I miss just feeling old.
So the midlife crisis is off the table, as I don’t have time for self-destruct just now since I can’t get even my adult shit together without that added BS. There’s really no spare time to blow everything up when you are just hoping to get your kid and yourself out the door with lunch packed and pants on both of you, can I get an amen?
But what then? Or what now, I mean. Here I am being all old (but not,) coming to terms with the idea that maybe, JUST maybe, this is all there is.
I am not destined to change the world, or even my little corner of it. There is no cosmic line to cross or switch I have to find and flip to make things “the way they are supposed to be.” No fairy godmother is going to come donk me on the head and pronounce that I am now fully qualified for adulting and open a door to some wonderland of grown-up-edness.
I always pictured myself as the girl humming the Mary Tyler Moore theme song and whipping my hat off to toss as I spun around knowing I was “gonna make it after allllllll.”
But staring down the barrel of the very adult age of 40, all I seem to be able to muster is a half-hearted bit of the theme from “One Day at a Time.” Then I realize that BOTH of those shows are so ancient, I can’t even come up-to-speed on TV references. AND I LOVE TV!
Again I find myself back at Reality Bites, and Troy; the-once-and-now-again voice of my generation… Now it seems, is “the winter of my discontent.” But Troy remains forever frozen in fresh-college-grad smuggery as he utters that line through his 90s facial hair.
Here in 2016 and MANY years away from my English lit degree, borrowing lines from Shakespeare seems awfully grand a way of phrasing the realization that I’ve been on the planet for 40 years and still cope with stressful situations primarily through nacho consumption and magical thinking.