Today is my 38th birthday. I have not always been so forthcoming with announcing my age –not to mention I have also not been so bold as to say it as an opening sentence!
If I am to be completely honest, I have actually been quite … what’s the word … dramatic … neurotic … irrationally crazed about my age from time to time. My milestone birthdays haven’t exactly brought out the best in me … and it all started with my 25th one.
25th birthday: This quarter-century mark (that I was so quick to “tease” my friends when they reached it) left me having a completely and utterly unexplainable meltdown – that to this day has me a bit baffled why I was so upset.
The best I can figure is that before I was 25, I saw 25 as being a grown up age. More importantly, I thought of people in their mid-20s as having their shit together. By this age, many of my friends were either married or dating the person they were going to marry; they were making headway in their professional lives, and even had adult-looking apartments (read: not college furniture and decorations). Not me. I was still floundering along trying to figure a lot of stuff out. I was convinced that because I hadn’t met the “right” guy yet that he simply didn’t exist. (As it turned out, my 25th year would turn out to be the year that led me down a twisted, horrendously jagged path; but because I followed it anyway – bumps, mud puddles, ditches and all – it turned out to be exactly the route I needed to go.)
30th birthday: If anyone witnessing the dramatics of my 25th birthday thought they’d seen the show, then my 30th birthday was the be-all-end-all encore! I was a total mess the weeks leading up to my birthday. I couldn’t explain it. To make matters worse, I actually knew, without a doubt, that I was being absurd about turning 30, but it didn’t stop me from fixating on the big 3-0.
On the eve of my 30th birthday, I remember sitting on the couch in a meltdown-like state saying to Jason, “Guys get distinguished with age; girls just get old, fat and wrinkly.”
I was so unbelievably warped about hitting 30 that I ripped down the “Happy 30th Birthday Tess” banner that my co-worker had made for me. She’d come into work early just to have it hanging when I walked in the door. Yes, I completely ripped it down in an undignified war-cry (clearly a finer moment in my life – ha!), but being the friend she was, she made me a new one that didn’t disclose my age and hung it the next day.
After those fine, lady-like dramatics of those two milestone birthdays, I was determined to reform my thinking about age. Jason was always telling me that you only as old as you feel (and it isn’t the age, it’s the mileage). With each challenge that I faced in my early 30s (loss of life-long friends, parents getting sick, death of grandparents, and long, unexpected military separations, to name just a few), I was also learning an extremely valuable lesson – how to appreciate the moments of today.
Still, as I moved towards the next milestone birthday, 35, I wondered how I’d handle this new milestone.
35th birthday: For my birthday, Jason organized a cookout with my family. Knowing how past milestone birthdays had brought out the head-spinning ogre side of me, my only request to Jason was that he didn’t put “Happy 35th Birthday” on my cake.
“Sure,” he says. “No problem!”
But Jason is a total prankster, and in his smart-ass fashion, he did indeed honor my request – his way. He presented me with a cake, lit with candles that read “Tess, Happy 420 Month Birthday!”
Just in case the number “35” made me feel old, then he was going to prove that “420” could really make me feel foolish about being fixated over my age! (and you better believe that I got the calculator out to check his math!)
So today is my 38th birthday, and Jason, the math-whiz, says to me, “You’ve been with me for about 30% of your life?” Wow! He’s right since we’ve been together for 12 years (married just shy of 9) – which according to my calculations, is totally worth celebrating. Happy 30% Day to Me!
And next year as I “creep towards 40,” the percentage will increase to 33% of my life. Way cool (and clutch!), and I am looking forward to it!
(…and for you math geeks out there, today technically marks 31.57894% of my life spent with Jas).