From birth until 26 years of age, if anyone asked me what my favorite holiday was, I would have looked them straight in the eye and declared that it was my birthday and Halloween, in that order. I don’t like family holidays, for a number of reasons. Halloween is a chance to dress up as a full grown adult and adopt a new identity for the day. What’s not great about that? And then for those who might point out that August 8th, my birthday, is nowhere recorded as a national holiday, I counter that holidays are all about perspective.
In my early 20s, I would be especially happy if my birthday fell on a work day. That afforded me the opportunity to ride the train downtown to work in my tiara, enjoying all the looks and questions, proudly responding that yes, in fact, today IS my birthday. Queen for a day and all that, followed by see through excuses to get nothing done at the office: long lunch, working the room, accepting little gifts from co-workers who have been privy to my daily birthday countdown (usually begun 30 days before, but there were no hard and fast rules). ” Oh a gift for me. How thoughtful. You shouldn’t have! However did you remember my birthday?” Shameless, I know.
Cut to my 27th birthday, when I was staring down the barrel of a divorce, had just started pursuing my Master’s degree, working part-time as an administrative assistant. I was broke, lonely and definitely at a crossroads. I took my birthday easy that year, not feeling too proud or invincible. Unfortunately, the closer I moved to 30, the more difficult I found it to recapture my former enthusiam for the day I was born.
This Saturday I will be 31. I planned myself a lovely party at a cool lounge called The Fat Cat on North Broadway (3-6 PM for anyone who wants to stop by). I am getting my hair and nails done, and working out extra hard with Rob this week in an effort to bolster my self-confidence. I am really giving it my all to, “fake it ’til I make it.” I realize I am not old enough to be seriously concerned with the imminent breakdown of my body. But in a year when I lost one of my best friends, took a leap in my career, and have yet to find solid footing, and with my second marriage in somewhat of a disarray, it’s getting harder to hold onto my resolve. Then there are the little reminders that even if I remain youngish and healthy, I have begun the slippery slope toward slowing down. Some examples:
1. Before I went to the gym last week, I had some nasty menstrual cramps, so I popped a couple Aleve. On the drive over to the gym, the OTC painkillers gave me an evil case of heartburn. I then had to pull over at 7-11 to swallow a couple Tums. Pathetic.
2. I get two-day hangovers now. I accept this may be a karma slap for the back half of the 90s.
3. I have applied for a number of media related internships this summer, and despite my insistence that my years of experience should not factor against me, I am as hungry as any of the kids, not one of these companies will give the “old girl” a shot.
4. As a matter of course, most new people I encounter ask me if I have children. When I say that I do not, the next usual question is when I will start trying (this is after they have been told my age). It seems that once you reach 30, and dare to have a husband, you and your womb are equally interesting.
I was watching a late night episode of E!’s “True Hollywood Stories” over the weekend. It was one of my favorites, the Selena episode. Yolanda Saldívar, Selena’s friend turned assailant was 34 years old when she murdered the Tejano superstar. I was eating some cookies when I heard this, and nearly spit them out. 34! She looked WAY older than that! Here is a link to her mugshot:
This news both elated and frightened me. Obviously, only three years younger than 34, I am of the opinion that I am holding my own a lot better than Yolanda managed to, even before the aging effects of prison. On the other hand, does old age sneak up on you unawares like a thief in the night? On my 34th birthday, will I magically look like my mother? Scary stuff.
I have already gone on about this much longer than I meant to. I am not so self-absorbed I can’t recognize the shallowness of being consumed by this line of thinking. But I can’t help it.