“You’re rounding up?” My friend Paul asked when I told him I was 40 “or would be in a few weeks.”
Laughing, I shrugged my shoulders. “I guess so.”
“No one does that.”
And it turns out I do it all the time. My birthday is 5 weeks away but I’ve told everyone here at this conference that I’m forty. I fucking love being forty. It can’t come soon enough. It’s a big round milestone-y number that reminds me of hair dye commercials and new leases on life. It’s bold, and it’s divisible by 1, 2, 4, 5, 20, 40. (I don’t have my phone nearby to use the calculator to confirm those are the only factors of 40, but you can see there are enough to be impressed. Way more than 39.)
You know what I also love? My bumper crop of gray hairs. When I see them growing around my temples, I say welcome, friends, you got here just in time. I reserve the right to dye them to kingdom come soon enough, but for now, those wiry gray strands on my head feel like house guests I knew were coming. So I’m blowing up the air mattress and making them a special dinner– the things that one does when expecting house guests.
Mostly, I love that I feel secure right this very second. Like socially secure. I’m 47 billion miles from home, sitting in a dorm room where a frisky little mouse keeps pestering my suite mate, and two angsty writers are below my window like, talking, for-like-ever about, like, samosas in such irritating voices that I sort of want to hurl a copy of Ulysses at ’em. But I won’t, because I
don’t own that book am too lazy (and scared of the mouse) to get off my bed to interrupt their oral tour of fried Indian cuisine.
For the first time ever in my life, I haven’t pressured to keep up with everybody else every single second of the day. I haven’t felt insecure about who I am (even though I’m sure there are more reasons now than ever to question how others receive what I am broadcasting).
And it’s not that I don’t care. If you ever hear me say that, you can call me our for lying. Because I care. I care about everything, but not enough to do anything to make people like me. I’m ok with the pool of people who like me being limited to those who come by it naturally. I don’t need to work at gathering other swimmers to jump into the “like Christie” pool.
I am happy for everyone to come or go as they please.
Because that’s exactly what I’m doing.(FN1)
FN1: Now, if only I could have this same sense of acceptance and joy around my writing, I’d be the goddamned Buddha.