Rounding Up To 40

“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.”

“I do.”

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.

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46 thoughts on “Rounding Up To 40

  1. I love the rounding up! I spent so long telling people I was 37 that when my birthday hit I couldn’t remember if I was turning 37 or 38. (It’s 37. Right? 2013 minus… Yes, 37.)

    I’m also digging your outlook on life and the not keeping up thing. I could take a lesson from you on that. I hope you’re loving the conference, even in the midst of the mouse and the samosa talkers.

  2. I see it and I love it!!! I’m not feeling it about my age, but I get this 100%. There is a lot to be secure in…dare I say it?…maybe even more than the stuff to worry about. At least today, right? Day by day, bird by bird.

  3. I love this. My 40’s have been my happiest time by far. I remember being in my 20’s and stressing over what to wear to see bands play in seedy dark clubs as if anybody there would notice or care about what I had on – or let me know if they didn’t approve. It’s nice to be free (freer anyway) of much of that. At 47, I’m already rounding up to 50 in my head because I am going to be one kick-ass 50-year-old.

  4. What an incredible, joy-filled, and HEALTHY outlook!! What does your therapist say? I have a feeling he’s nominating himself for sainthood! 🙂

    Seriously, nobody is more beautiful than when they are comfortable in their own skin. I’m so happy for you.

    Now, do you give lessons?

    • I’ve told myself I have to sustain this outside of this trip in order to brag to the Good Doctor about his results. If it sticks, I’ll retrace my steps and let you know. Honestly, I think the fact that there are no full length mirrors anywhere around me might be the key.

  5. Oh, you are so close to Enlightenment! Grab a copy of Siddhartha, love your writing as much as your readers do, and you are there.

    I often forget my age. I told a doctor I was 37, but he looked down at his laptop and said,”Um…I believe you’re 38, actually.” He spoke so softly, as if he were uttering a curse. Then he followed it up with, “You look very young though.” (What else does one say?) I told him my secret was red wine. (And my post breastfeeding bout of adult acne….that gets me carded while buying the red wine.)

    • I love it! Can you imagine the tirades docs must have to hear from patients about age???? And the post breastfeeding acne thing? Makes me want to keep nursing until….I die.

  6. I dye my grays like there is not tomorrow. And I rounded up to 40 for a year before I actually turned the big 4-0 0 like starting the day after my 39th birthday. And by no coincidence, I wish I had the acceptance of my writing that I do about a lot of things similarly to you.

    • I suspect I’ll rock the dye once the novelty wears off. I am not above it, but for now it’s all hey look at me, I’m getting older. Take that lost and confused, 20-somethings.

    • Exactly. That’s the perfect word. I earned it. These laugh lines, these sunspots, these gray hairs. I’ve lived well, survived and here I am.

      On Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM, Outlaw Mama

  7. This is exactly what I have enjoyed about my 30s. I care so much less now than I used to, about what people think of me. I expect I’ll care even less after i turn 40 in three short years. I’m working toward being one of those old ladies whose mouth has absolutely no filter, but instead of getting bent out of shape, everybody will just laugh because I’m a funny old lady. Ahh, I can’t wait.

  8. I’m 45. Although my body was better when I was 25 (um…like waaaay better), everything else is better now. Honestly, every. single. thing. I wouldn’t go back for the world. (Although I do hate gray hair. But I take care of that every 6 weeks at the salon because I have more money now than I did when I was 25! Take that, young self!) It’s kind of a great age because your body still works fairly well so that’s okay, but you know a few things about life and about yourself and you start being able to truly put things in perspective. The 40s are really better than they get credit for being. –Lisa

  9. Good for you! If I had to freeze time, I might stay 40 forever, great age! But I turn 50 this year. Luckily, it doesn’t bother me one bit.

  10. I always figured that my forties were the pay-off for all the work I did in my thirties and, for the most part it was. And yes, you’ll notice I’m talking in the past tense because I’m staring down the throat of the next decade and–gulp–it’s a little harder to round up so cheerfully about this one. I will say, though, that if a person can get away from the surrounding chaos of her life, and like what she sees when she’s alone, that’s a really, really good sign. Happy Birthday! You’ve already given yourself a fantastic gift…

  11. I’m 40 in October. I keep expecting the dread or the unhappiness or the something feeling to kick in but I’m simply ambivalent and…calm. Nonplussed? Chillin’? OK with it? Glad it’s coming because at least it means I’m still alive? Who knows. Either way, happy early birthday. ’73 was a good year. (As for the writing calm/acceptance? I GOT NOTHIN’).

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