05 June 2008

Ushering in the Next Decade

On Monday I turned 40.  I can say without fear of contradiction (after all, who would contradict me except myself?) that it was the worst birthday I've had.  

What an intro, eh?

First of all, I wanted to stay up all night to see in the day, and I did.  Unfortunately, the actuality did not match the vision.  I invited a bunch of people over for dinner on Sunday, starting at 10pm, but for various reasons they were all unable to stay until sunrise.  It was a Sunday, which is hardly an auspicious day to invite people to stay up all night with you, but still...the result was that they all went home by 2:30 am and I ended up sitting by myself in my living room watching the sun come up at 6 am.  Not the vision I conjured up when I first said to myself, I want to stay up all night!

So the day started off badly.  And I think it could never pull itself up from that 
beginning.  I went to bed shortly after sunrise, and when I woke up I found myself filled with depression.  I lay there thinking, Who will want me now?  Who will ever take a second look 
at me?  My body will now start to deteriorate, and at my age now the only men I'll have to choose from will be bald, or have children, or be settled and boring.  What 31-year-old will want a 40-year-old? In any case any man who would be interested in me will be unable to have sex twice a day, EVER, so I'll end up alone for the rest of my life and/or sexually unsatisfied.  As you can see from these thoughts, I was not entirely rational.  But I was rational enough in one part of myself to recognize that I was being irrational, and the rational part of myself suggested that I get up and have a look at myself naked in the mirror, because I look quite good naked these days.  I thought to myself that I could get up and look at myself, and then I'd see that many avenues were still open to me (as it were).  But I knew, even with the rational part of myself, that if I did that I'd just stand there, look at myself, and think, How long can this possibly last?

I admit that I was, and am, distressed to find how thoroughly and unknowingly I've absorbed the messages of women's magazines - messages I've always consciously recognized as nonsensical and pernicious.  But obviously a part of me has come to believe that it's all over once you're out of your thirties, and also that I should now be moving on to wearing turtlenecks and pearls and "tasteful" scarves, rather than listening to Super Furry Animals and trying to see if I can get tickets to see Reverend and the Makers while I'm in England.  And this part of me worries that I am somehow desperately trying to hold on to my youth, that because I still like to discover new bands and want to see Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay I must be a saddo loser who can't bear to grow up.

So I am all at sea with myself these past three days.  And I know I wouldn't have had this reaction if there weren't other factors:  I live somewhere I hate, and it's boiling hot all the time, and I am uncertain about my whole future, including a relationship I don't know how to resolve, and I lost a relationship I still miss, and I am alone (really, most of the time; metaphorically, all the time), and my life seems to be inching by, with every inch jam-packed with tedium and hatefulness.  So of course the rational part of me is aware that most of what I felt on the morning of my birthday, and continue to feel to a lesser degree now, is silly and irrelevant.  But there's still a part of me that's sad, if only because - whether I'm 40 or 30 or 72 - I hate the life I currently have.

What a way to start a new decade, huh?  On the bright side, it really almost only can go up from here.

Next post more cheerful, I promise.  When next I write, it will be from London, so all will be different.

1 comment:

downfromup said...

Are you serious? I mean, really?

First of all, you should be incredibly proud of the person you are. Why? Because, whether or not it is clear to you, she is an incredible little lady. Neurotic to a fault? Yes, but incredible all the same. I thought about just moving past this entry, but it isn't within me to not say exactly what is on my mind exactly when it enters the brain.

You are ludicrous for thinking that just because things are closer to the end than they were before, that life is going to wind down and reach a specific conclusion...namely that any and all interest that life would have shown you thus far will dissipate.

I refuse to believe that you are the type of person to relinquish ANY attention that life has afforded you thus far. The point at which a person begins to be insignificant to the world around them is directly proportional to the point at which they start feeling less entitled.

It is that uniform of pearls and turtleneck sweaters that you need to escape from because millions of women before you have chosen that path. We all know where it leads, and it is boring to people like us.

There is a world out there that you have yet to finish seeing and men, experiences, and human intimacies that you have yet to fathom and will be grateful for later.

You are a smart, beautiful woman who sometimes allows her intelligence get the better of her. Do not overthink everything because eventually you will find some perspective on it that is depressing and sad. And as we all know, it's easier to believe the bad parts over the good.

"Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should"