In 11 days, I will turn 39. I need to talk about this.
I remember being an elementary school kid in a Chicago suburb in the early 80s and watching prime time TV, briefly tuning into a show called Dynasty. These were the days of no remote controls :::GASP::: so changing the channel was some what of a grueling task, walking all.the.way. to the TV, clicking the dial endlessly through non-cable TV. Nothing was on one particular evening so I paused on this Dynasty show. I distinctly remember thinking, “what’s with all of these angry, old white people?”. They all had grey hair, fancy clothes, big houses…and they were all very angry. These horrible few moments of watching this show started to form my visual of what growing “old” and becoming an adult would look like for me: I will have grey hair, I will be rich, and I will be angry. I decided at this moment that I did not want to get any older than 40.
Everyone seems to make a big deal about turning 40. Everyone wants to feel their feelings about that age. Understandably so, but nope, not me. I need to talk about 39. Let’s face it, 39 is really the last year of being “young” so this is kind of a big deal. Somewhere along the line, perhaps it was during the Dynasty era, 40 became “Over the Hill”, only to be celebrated with black balloons and tombstones, but 39? Nope. Not there yet. At 39, I’m still ascending up said hill.
But, 39 sure does look and feel a hell of a lot different that 29 and it’s literally a lifetime ago from 19.
At 19, I wasn’t really even aware that I had a body to take care of. I was knee deep in college life and all of the peer pressures that came along with that. I was abusing my body in different ways: smoking weed, malnourishing to stay skinny, ignoring any need of sleep…you know, the usual. Shit, I was even working a Hooters to prove a point that “HEY, I am young and free and dumb and it’s somehow still feministic that I’m flaunting my boobs!!!”. It was a glorious, naive time.
At 29, I was more cognizant and realized that I might have to start taking care of my body in some form another..but at the end of the day, it could wait another few years because I was, after all, still in my 20s. Sunblock be DAMNED.
At 39, I’ve never been more aware of my body, and not in a good way. Shit is falling apart.
-I’m acutely aware that my need for “cheater” eyeglasses is in my near future. You know, the ones at Walgreens for $7.99 with the fun leopard print frames? Yeah, those. Twice within the last month, I’ve caught myself struggling to read something that I should have totally been able to.
-My reproductive organs are literally falling out. I’m not shitting you. My periods have become so angry that I have constructed a warning sign that I put on my front door every month that simply states “KEEP OUT”. My hormones rage so much that I never know which personality I will be from day to day. And what the fuck is perimenopause? Well, I have that and it sucks. A hysterectomy is in my very near future, along with those cheater glasses. Perhaps those glasses will come with my pre-op packet at my OB’s office?
-Speaking of vaginas, what the hell is up with peeing myself these days? Maybe childless 39 year olds know nothing of this but childbirth has wrecked my bladder for the long term. It went from, “Hmmm, I think I have to pee” in my late 20’s to, “HOLY SHIT, IF I DON’T GO TO THE BATHROOM RIGHT NOW PEE IS…OMG I HAVE TO SNEEZE”, and now there is pee running down my leg. Fuck that.
-And speaking of bathrooms, IBS is a real fucking thing which is apparently tied to the aforementioned reproductive organs falling out. If you don’t know what IBS is, good for you. Google it. And Fuck you, Jamie Lee Curtis, and your Activia yogurt. Fuck you for being right about needing to eat this shit. Only I can’t because I’m lactose intolerant. Sigh.
-That sunblock I skipped in my 20’s? Yeah, it mattered. Sun spots are not as attractive as a sun tan, apparently. And no, Aveeno Sun Spot Corrector, no, it doesn’t work in “just 4 weeks”. It’s been 4 fucking months since I started bathing my face in you twice a day and these sun spots are only getting uglier. And “laugh lines”? Laugh lines are not a thing. They’re called wrinkles. And I have them. I also have a zit the size of a mountain on my cheek so… that’s still keeping me looking young?
-Although I’m the same weight that I was years ago because genetics are on my side, it sure looks a lot different hanging on 39 year old bones. Things sag that really shouldn’t, and that is what it is, but what really bothers me is shopping for clothes. I’m met with such pathetic eyes if I walked into H&M or, God forbid, Forever 21. I feel the judgement of, “Awww, this woman is, like, 40 pretending to be 25. That’s sad.”. But seriously? I don’t know where to shop. I’m stuck in between wearing these awful, high-waisted button up shorts from Charlotte Russe that show my butt cheeks and these retirement style Bermuda shorts that extend down to my knees from Chico’s. It’s very concerning.
-Working out is actually necessary if I want to reduce the jiggle by about 10%. Yoga is my fitness routine of choice but one wrong move and my body becomes such an asshole. My joints will ache and my muscles will get sore within 30 seconds of overdoing. I also consider cleaning my house a workout now…but that might have always been the case.
At 19, my lifestyle was what you would expect. See above. Late nights, dance clubs, Raves (because, well, the 90’s), studying, working: rinse, lather, repeat. My friends were basically anyone that would do these things along with me. Surface relationships were aplenty but it was also so very, very important to me to fit in; still in that high school mentality.
At 29, I had slowed way down, sure, but I was still game for frequent dinner parties, concerts, and sleeping in was still an option that I took every single weekend. I had gym time several times a week and time for friends. I still took friendship break-ups really hard and was so concerned with everyone liking me. Still.
At 39, pretty much everything has changed in this realm.
-I haven’t seen the inside of a dance club since wearing body glitter and putting my hair in tiny cornrows was still en vogue. My social life now consists of play-dates with five and six-year-olds and their moms. Evening plans are a bit scary because it cuts into my yoga-pant-wearing, Netflix time. The best plans are canceled plans at this age. No one needs a social life when you have 10 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy to watch. Meredith Grey and Christina Yang are perfect gal pals.
-On the subject of friends, I have to say that friendships are much more meaningful. Now, these girls are lifers. They are “ride or die” friends that have been in it for the long haul, listening to me complain about everything from bowel movements to parenting woes. These are not shallow relationships. Thankfully, I have quite a few friends that have been in it with me for 20 years or more. At this age, there’s no time for games, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship. I surround myself with those that want to surround themselves with me. It’s simple at this age. I care much less of what people think of me and cherish those that have stuck around through some really shitty periods of my life. Having a best friend that will analyze my child’s latest bowel movement with me because she’s just a neurotic as I am? That is a real, lasting, quality friendship.
-Meeting new potential friends is now like dating. You have to, like, converse and feel out commonalities. This is totally different than my younger years. For example, if a potential friend doesn’t have children, awesome, but I know I might not have a lasting relationship brewing, mostly because I turn green with envy that she’s still living like a 29 year old and I am pretending to be Luke Skywalker for the 100th time in a day. This becomes a potential issue.
At 19, I wanted to save the fucking world. I was a social work major and couldn’t care less that my salary potential was $20,000 a year. Nope. I was going to make a difference in the world! Who needs to pay bills??
At 29, I wanted all of the money. All of it. I had long abandoned my social work stint and went straight to the most fucked up, money making field I could find: medical device sales. Who needs to save the world? I just needed to save myself from being broke!
At 39, I’m back to wanting to save the world but I’m now really understanding that I have to also pay my bills. My professional self has matured. And by matured I mean I have drank the corporate Kool-Aid and I shut the fuck up and do my job so I can sustain a nice lifestyle for my daughter and me.
Overall, 39 sounds pretty shitty, reading back through all of these thoughts. I’ll tell you, it really isn’t. Yes, at 39 I’m adult-ing. I have no choice but to adult and that sucks. Life tends to start throwing you some crazy shit in your late thirties….but it’s humbling and there’s something very welcoming about knocking on 40’s door. It’s an arrival of sorts, closing the door to a childhood almost. I know myself better now that I ever have. There’s something so freeing in that.
So, here’s to my last year of my younger years. You will find me celebrating at the 5pm early bird seating and I will certainly be in bed by 10pm.