Heather is one of those people with an indomitable spirit and endless positivity. At first glance I loved the essay. It's author captured so much truth and authenticity. Then two of the friends on the email (the birthday girl included) wrote back saying "would like to think we aren't half way there yet..." and "Ummmm no one else found that a bit depressing??? We have completed as many years and we have ahead! Oy I feel so old!!! I like to still think of myself as a girl not a lady " I realized they were right and I decided each of us has our own version. For Ali, maybe this one will hit closer to home.
So for us, maybe this is 38...
Not so much in the middle of our lives, (as I have every intention of living well into my 90's), rather at the middle of our growth. I'd like to think that the 80's and 90's are merely for reflection. Therefore, 38 might be the point at which we are half-way between who we were and who we become. 38 is old enough to have seen most everything and still young enough to want to see more. More jaded and realistic than idealistic. Still convinced that what we do matters, what we say counts and how we love is more important than who we love.
In 2013, 38 is also tricky because as women we have redefined the 30's. Some of us have been married "forever" and have kids in the double digits, some are divorced, widowed or remarried. Others are new to all of that, still navigating newborns, pregnancy, coming out of the closet or choosing to remain single.
38 for some, is the height of their career, finally having paid their dues and been recognized for their dedication and accomplishments. Others have woken up one day to realize they want something all together different and changed their path completely. Some of us have made the difficult choice to try to have it all, realized that was not possible and compromised our careers for our families. We've convinced ourselves we'll all be better for that sacrifice. For some that will be true and others will always wonder.
38 is knowing who we are and most days, being at peace with that. 38 is realizing that taking care of your body is more important than ever and looking around you to see so many friends in the best shape of their lives but, knowing that it comes harder than it used to. 38 is about acceptance. Of ourselves, our reality, our families and slowly letting go of wanting your life to be something it is not. 38 is about letting go of some of the self loathing and letting in more self loving. Or sometimes, not having enough time in the day for either.
38 is having buried a best friend, watching another bury their parent and yet another their child. 38 is realizing this only the beginning of that journey. But 38 is also having witnessed birth and realizing that you had know idea about love until you had children. That having them is like watching your heart walk around on two feet and that you'd not hesitate to throw yourself in front of a bus for them.
38 is also realizing that the scariest thing on TV is not Hannibal, Real Housewives or The Walking Dead but the national news. 38 is letting your children watch endless episodes of brainless garbage but never letting them watch the news because you are without the ability to explain the horrors of the world to a 7 year old.
38 is about real, deep and meaningful friendships. Knowing that your friends really are the family you chose for yourself, which also means you have likely parted with some who were toxic and added others you never would have imagined having at 20. At 38 your girlfriends are your lifeline, your sanity, your belly busting laughter and your gut wrenching tears. They know your bra size, your secrets and your fears and they never use them against you.
38 is about sex. Too much, not enough...figuring out how to reinvent it and yourself. For some its about finally being open and honest enough to get what you need and want. Talking about it with yourself, your partner, your friends, your therapist. Others laugh at the idea that 35 was supposed to be women's sexual peak. A clean house, paid bills and 8 hours of sleep sound more enticing.
38 is about wanting to look good but knowing that driving your kids to school in your pink fluffy robe might not be the best way. 38 is about owning more workout gear than panties because admit it, we all go commando at the gym. 38 is about even amounts of comfortable shoes and sexy ones and knowing which will collect dust and which will make your bunions happy. 38 is about seeing stretch marks, grey hairs, cellulite, crow's feet, c-sections scars etc. and trying to think of them as well deserved battle scars.
38 my dear Ali, is where we are and the best part is that we get to define it. We are no longer held to the designations our grandmothers were. We are no longer held to the ideals built only by men. We live here and now and 38 is whatever you want it to be. Today that is...tomorrow you might choose a whole different version. xo