It’s funny what an impending birthday can do to you. This week I turn 38. It’s not necessarily considered to be one of the landmark years, like 40 or 50, but, unlike turning 37, which for some reason had no significance at all, 38 seems important; it feels like it’s got some sort of substance. Some people don’t like revealing their age at all and it crossed my mind about whether or not to do so. Would people be shocked, thinking I was actually older all along or would others be disappointed leaning towards the fantasy that I was new to the whole 30s thing? I then realised that one of the best things about turning 38 was that I really didn’t care. This new found liberation may have been gradually seeping into my consciousness for the past few years but the revelation has only just happened. I can honestly say that getting older is just as inspiring and fun as the lost innocent youth that I hear many lamenting about. This aging thing has its own benefits and, let’s face it, we always consider ‘old’ to be about 20 years further on than wherever we are presently at. Please God as an octogenarian I will be admiring those who have just celebrated their 100th birthday!
Three decades and eight years on this planet and I look back and wonder if I have learned much, contributed anything or if the best is yet to come? I’m certainly enjoying being me more than ever which is a funny place to find myself given that outwardly things have taken a turn for the worse. The wrinkles are in evidence and grey hairs now need to be attended to regularly. ‘Foundation garments’ have found their way into my vocabulary and wardrobe and the quest to find a comfortable pair of ‘suck it all in’ knickers has become the holy grail! Shoes are tested for comfort as much as style and in everyday situations comfort tends to win. I actually own a pair of ‘Foot Gloves’, which my partner can’t even bear to look at parked neatly in the hallway, never mind actually on my feet. Like many men he believes flat shoes of any description are the evil work of the devil and that the female foot should be permanently shod in a skyscraping stiletto heel. We often joke about his refusal to buy into the practicality ‘myth’! At 28 I might have given heed to such preferences, believing that my footwear existed for the pleasure of others; at 38 they’re my feet.
Inwardly though, I feel younger and lighter at 38 than I did in my twenties. The need to impress people or pretend I am something that I’m not has disappeared. The fear and stress of not being good enough/thin enough/bright enough has totally evaporated. This is me, faults and all; I’m out and proud. Time is of course still important but there is a new found patience. I’m not in the rush that I used to be. I’m more relaxed about reaching goals and the ‘next exciting thing’. The days seem to hold more pleasure and those in between, supposed dull moments that are just life ticking along now actually have great value. There are no in between moments as such anymore, it is all ‘now’ and now is good no matter what is happening. I used to think that time spent in any way other than forwarding a career or working towards a goal was time wasted. I now see the great value in taking a few hours off just to play with my nephew. We will sit on a rug in his playroom and travel together on our ‘magic carpet’ to allsorts of distant lands. His imagination is totally unlimited and exercises my dulled, ageing one all the time. Recently we went to Australia to see kangaroos nearly crushing one as we landed. We not only travel through space but we have conquered the time thing as well. We’ve checked out the dinosaurs and left with just split seconds to spare having been chased by a herd of pterodactyls; we’ve visited with the Knights of the Round Table and sat in on a few meetings and when we got bored with that we returned to the playroom, put a few teddy bears in a box and took them boating on a pretend lake; all rounded off with some juice and biscuits which we had as a picnic on the ‘lakeside’. All of this despite the fact that we never actually left a small room where the rain was pelting off the windows. At 3 years old he considers me his best friend. When pressed as to why I’m his best friend he will qualify it with ‘She’s good at playing and she does magic and puppets’. My clumsy sleight of hand and rudimentary puppetry skills are a marvel to him and the 35 year age difference doesn’t matter at all. So in the eyes of this 3 year old I’m just like him only physically bigger. In fact is it possible that someone who displays such immaturity could indeed be 38?
I wonder if I would have enjoyed these moments as much in my twenties or even have been willing to indulge such whimsy. I would certainly have been concerned about the potential hazards to my clothes; dirty, sticky hands and crayons mess up white trousers. At 38 I don’t care. A paw print here or a red wax crayon there is nothing that the wonders of modern washing powder can’t remove.
At 38 I also know that family and people are so much more important than things or money. Religion is unhealthy but there is a God and He is good. Drinking water is definitely good for you. Negative people should be avoided at all costs. Sex gets better when you stop worrying about the wobbly bits and, finally, you always are where you are meant to be even if that is in the supermarket with unbrushed hair and a jumper over your pyjamas when someone important to you strolls by! I’m just glad to be me, as you should be glad to be you. 38 is great! Happy Birthday to me.