Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
~ T.S. Eliot
When I was a kid, every year on New Year’s at midnight, I had a tradition. I’d say, “Next year, I’ll be ten!” For example. My birthday’s in August, so on January 1st, the idea of leaping two numbers in age filled me with joy and excitement.
This last January 1st, I had a stunning and unsettling revelation. “Next year, I’ll be 40!”
Holy…I try not to swear so much in my blogs now, but please insert many “#$##@*&!” words above.
I could win a “Degrassi” trivia contest right now.
I own and sport more “Hello, Kitty” items than can be counted on two hands.
I still wish that Glintz and Brights exist when I’m in the hair dye aisle. That I’ve been fiddling with hair color since I was 13 helps me remain in blissful ignorance as to whether my hair is gray or not.
It’s stupid, I know, to fret about such things. The phrase “Do not resent growing old – many are denied the privilege” is a pretty serious and all-too-true sentiment.
Five months after I started blogging, I wrote this.
It was scary to turn 30. As a former actress, I knew that I was entering the First Decade of Undesirability. Ridiculous I know, but my clinical nature had to accept facts as facts. I also had always appreciated the idea that Jenny Lewis sang about: “…to give things their turn.” I’d lived through my kid years, teenagedom, my 20s. Now it was time for others to do that, to show up to casting calls as 20-somethings who could pass for late teens.
And it was all good. My 30th birthday was one of the most special nights of my life. Babz & Company had set up my regular karaoke-night bar with streamers, balloons, and a hell of a “Surprise!”
I wrote more than one blog about how age stuff is stupid, and being in your 30s is awesome. How silly to fear a new decade, I said.
But now as I approach another new decade, I’m intimidated.
It’s not because women in their 40s can’t rock it out. My boss is in her early 40s, and I’m hardpressed to think of a more badass woman, not to mention that she is gorgeous. My former coworker and friend is in her 40s as well – same sentiment. When my mother was in her 40s, I got annoyed when she complained about age, as she was awesome, as well. (Still is, but I’m going for a theme here.)
It’s more about the fact that I don’t even have my shit together in the slightest bit. When I turned 30, life still felt like a potential smörgåsbord.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Maybe I didn’t dare enough, in my 30s. Because I’m still a waitress (the office work I do is more of a favor to me than anything else). I have no kids, and it’s possible now that I may never, due simply to time’s passing and also, science.
Yet I personally know at least one woman who had a baby at 40, and that baby is awesome.
In 1999, I was the resident ingénue in a repertoire theater. I remember thinking that when I was in my 40s, I wanted to be just like a couple of the actresses with whom I worked. Getting older wouldn’t be bad at all, if I could wear little clips in my hair that looked like butterflies, and invite people over to a home that was chock-full of art.
I remember being in my late 20s. “Desperate Housewives” was all the rage, and “40 (was) the new 20.”
It was comfortable feeling that way, that it wouldn’t be bad to be in my 40s, when I was in my 20s.
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
…And in short, I was afraid.
When I was 19, I met several amazing people in Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont. It was pre-Internet, so staying in touch meant writing letters. There was one guy, Ethan, with whom I became friends. He was cute, but our relationship was not romantic, more about sharing ideas and Heavy Thoughts (TM “Lucas”) that usually didn’t come up in daily conversation with our teenaged peers.
The year after I met Ethan, I used to write out poems by hand that I thought were cool, and mail them to him, because he always Got It. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was my personal poem of the time. It was all about getting older, and life, and wisdom! At 19, I totally understood.
The summer that I turned 25, I was finishing up my uber-useful English BA, and took an intensive course on Hopkins, Yeats, and Eliot. Now that I was insanely older, I ruffled the virtual hair of my once-19-year-old self, and realized how much deeper T.S. Eliot’s words were than I ever could have appreciated, back when I was a kid.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
I don’t talk to Ethan any more. No bad reason, it just doesn’t happen. I went on with life, and was a fantastic student — 4.0 GPA, baby!
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions that a minute will reverse.
The second summer that I hung out with Ethan, we watched “My Girl 2” in his time-share.
“How sad,” I thought then, regarding the suckiness of the sequel. That summer of ’95, I was about to turn 20 and thought I’d finally, at last, figured it out. Poor Anna Chlumsky. So sad how her promising stardom was fading.
Nowadays, that poor sad sack is getting nominated for awards and stealing scenes from Julia Louis-Dreyfus – a feat that I literally did not think was possible; JLD is my comedic goddess.
Ms. Chlumsky’s not in her 40s. But JLD was when she rocked out as Christine in my favorite sitcom of all time, next to “Friends.”
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas
But in the meantime, there are decisions, revisions, mermaids – all sorts of things to attend to. I think that the thing that scares me most about turning 40 is the realization that time really does run out. Better get to stepping.
And probably read Hamlet, while I’m at it.