"At 40, you are at the pinnacle of a turning point in your life. Poppy used to tell me, "by 40 you've usually lost one parent, you are aware that your marriage isn't everything you dreamed it to be, and you learn a harsh reality of being responsible for your own happiness and well-being". I kinda thought he was a bore when he repeatedly repeated this to me during our visits, lol. Little did I know the depth and breadth of those words of wisdom. Since they came from your grandfather, I pass them on to you."
Great. Thanks, Mom.
She dispensed with this wisdom just days before my birthday; today, my friends, I turned 40. And as my grandfather stated, I've lost one parent, I'm not married, but in a long term relationship that has moments where Ed narrowly escapes death when it's not everything I dreamt it to be, and although I don't have a life full of your average responsibilities (kids, mortage payments, getting to work on time to face a boss you despise...) I'm still responsible for my own happiness.
Shit. What the hell does that mean?? I really hope it doesn't mean I have to grow up because I'm so not ready to do that. Pfffttt. How boring would that be? Look, I have a boyfriend in his early thirties, a best friend who acts like she's twelve and my dear friend Alan who, although older than me, you'd swear was Dick Clark's brother! He hasn't aged since the day I met him over fifteen years ago; plus, he has a laugh that would make a room full of first graders giggle! So why do I have to be the one to grow up?
And what exactly is supposed to happen at forty? Is this the top of the hill or am I over the hill? And if I'm over the hill, fuck it, I'm going to do just what I'd do in my 18-wheeler; flip on the Jake Brake and ride the hill slowly and steadily, chugging all the way down to the bottom. I don't care who or what is behind me. They'll just have to wait. This is MY ride.
I will admit though, that since my father died, I have been thinking a lot about my own mortality and even death in general. Sometimes when I am driving late at night, I am convinced that any and every pain I have is most likely a heart attack; and since Ed sleeps like a corpse, I'm going to take my last breath on the side of some barren interstate, listening to the voice of Nancy Grace, while he sleeps through the entire thing.
Or...I think about how, although I know my brother fears losing me, I hope I go first because I know I wouldn't be able to live another day if he died before me.
Or...I wonder how I'm going to survive my mother not being here someday, as much as her American Idol voting style irritates me.
Or...I wonder what would happen if a moose jumped out in front of the truck; would I swerve and careen off the road into a ditch, possibly to my death or would I hit the moose and risk the antlers coming through the windshield, impaling me, and ultimately still causing my death?
Clearly, driving at night with nothing to distract me, is not the best time to do deep thinking.
On a lighter note, I usually never worry about the things most women obsess over as they age: I have almost no gray hair, on most days I would rather plan my next yummy meal than worry about my weight, and I believe because of those many extra pounds, I barely have a wrinkle on my face. Ah-ha! I think I may have just found the one benefit of being fat; plump and juicy skin. Oh wait, there's another one. Since I've been "full figured" most of my life, I won't be stressing over why I can't weigh what I did in high school or if I'll ever be able to fit into my "skinny" jeans again. Who gives a shit? There is SO much more to life than skinny jeans.
That being said, there are some things I will be giving more attention as I age. My health is the first of them. At this time, I am as healthy as a horse, but that doesn't mean I want to weigh as much as one. I know extra weight puts a strain on my body and although I've been lucky up until now, I plan on eating better and maybe even incorporating the "E" word into my day; and I don't mean eclairs. I dread the "E" word. But, I am going to work on staying healthy; after all, I have people who would miss me if I were gone. Right? Hello?? Right???
The second thing I want to work on has more to do with following dreams; writing, photography, inventions, business opportunities, etc. I have a list of things and have begun outlines for all of them and Eddie and and I have already discussed taking time off to dedicate to these pursuits. I told him we needed a month or two in a hotel, uninterrupted, to map everything out; I really want to get going on the things we've already discussed. I also have two projects in the works with my best friend and I've decided to dedicate more time to that. I've just had so many signs lately telling me I need to venture in a forward direction. I'm tired of saying, "I can do that!" when I see other people's ideas come to fruition. I have time, money and a great support system. There is no reason to not move forward with MY things.
Third is travel; designated spots in the United States and eventually, Europe. Ed and I have already started to map out our jaunt and so far we've got seventeen countries and a two month plan. My passport is seriously starting to burn a hole in my carry-on bag and cruising around Canada just isn't going to cut it. I want stamps dammit! From real foreign countries, not just our pleasant neighbors to the north!
In fact, I've already made a friend via the internet who has graciously offered to show me around her family's ancestral village when I'm in Italy. I will most definitely be taking her up on it. What she doesn't know (well, up until now) is that my sole reason for visiting is to try and pressure her into cooking me something from her What's Cooking Wednesday series. Since most of her meals are based on what's in season, I might just have to plan my whole trip around the time eggplant is plentiful. And thank God there isn't a season for veal.
Finally, I'd like to work on documenting family history for the future generation. I have three nephews, who by the very nature of being boys, will probably not be interested in learning about their heritage and family history until everyone who knows anything is six feet under. How I'm going to do this isn't clear yet, but since I have so much on my "To Do" list, I better figure something out quickly.
The other day when I mentioned I was feeling as if forty was old, my friend said that forty is the new thirty. I guess that was supposed to make me feel better. Then I remembered the George Bernard Shaw quote, "Youth is waste on the young." In part, I agree with him. Ed and I have often talk about how people should live their lives backward - starting with the time and money age usually affords someone so you can do everything you desire to do.
But, I'm not "old old" yet. I don't have blue hair, I don't need a walker, I still have all of my teeth and I've yet to have a hot flash. Oh dear God, please don't let me have a hot flash, you must know how much I despise the heat...
So, at 10:49 a.m. eastern time, I will officially be The Big Four Oh.
Watch out people, eggs are a hatching everywhere!