You guys, you guys, I turned 39!!!
Two weeks ago.
I apologize for being a bit late with this birthday post. But I’ve had a lot of other important stuff to tell you about — like pee funnels and unicorn ski masks. (BTW, if you want a unicorn ski mask — and who DOESN’T want a unicorn ski mask??? — the Unicorn Ski Mask Lady is offering a special 20% discount on all unicorn apparel to my readers. All you have to do is use the code UNBRAVE. Thank you, Unicorn Ski Mask Lady for the special offer!)
Plus, I’ve been using the past two weeks to think about what I want to say to you about being almost-forty. Besides, you know, OMIGOD, I’M ALMOST-FORTY!
Not that turning almost-forty was a bad thing.
It was actually a really good thing.
I spent the day with friends doing fun stuff — eating free chili and drinking free beer at the Kalamazoo Chili Cook Off and getting a purple pedicure.
And then my friends threw me a surprise party, where I was plied with spring rolls and hotpot and princess hats.
All in all, it was a great day.
Until they brought out the cake.
You guys, this is what happens when your Japanese friend picks out the cake. She claims she didn’t know what “over the hill” meant, and she just got it for me because she knows I like to hike.
After the initial shock of being called an old fogey by a sheet cake, I started to think about the expression “over the hill.”
The thing is, you guys, I’m pretty sure whoever came up with this expression has never actually climbed a hill.
Here is the thing about hills: they are absolute bitches to climb. Take this from someone who has climbed more than a few hills in her day — many of them accidentally.
Here’s the other thing about hills: they’re not even all that fun to be on top off. From my experience, the top of the hill tends to be, well, disappointing.
Did I ever tell you about the time I hiked Mount Fuji in the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING NIGHT, so I could be at the top of the mountain for the sunrise? And then the sunrise lasted all of five seconds and I was like, “SERIOUSLY? I JUST HIKED UP A MOUNTAIN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING NIGHT TO SEE A FIVE-SECOND SUNRISE???”
You want to know the best part about hills, though? It’s the part where you get to go down them. It’s the part where you should probably worry about falling, but you’re too busy galloping towards the bottom with your hands in the air while your inner-kid is screaming “WHHHEEEEE!!!” (And maybe a little bit of your outer-kid, too.)
It’s the part where you are completely and over that hill.
So, maybe it’s true.
Maybe I am “over the hill.”
But not in the negative way that the idiom implies.
But in the good “WHEEEEEEEEE!!! THIS IS THE BEST PART EVER!!!” way.
Because that’s kind of how I feel about my life right now.
I’m at the best part ever.
I even had this moment a few weeks ago, when I at this little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant, while I was on my winter camping trip. I had just spent the day trudging over eight miles of slushy sand dunes. (As I said, I have a tendency to accidentally climb hills. And the tendency to listen to cute park rangers.)
I hadn’t showered in two days.
I had spent my nights peeing in a bucket. And I’m sure I smelled exactly like someone who spent her nights peeing in a bucket.
I had ordered a pizza that was way too big for my tiny little party-of-one. I was coming out of the restroom, where I looked in the mirror to discover my face was blotchy and rashy from what I’m not entirely sure.
Then I spotted my huge pizza waiting for me at my table across the empty restaurant, and I thought, “I love my life right now.”
It’s possible the huge pizza was to blame for making me think this thought. It was a very huge pizza.
But this was not the first time I’ve had this thought lately.
Which is weird and totally unexpected because, honestly, I’m not living the kind of life I ever thought I would be happy to live.
It’s not that my life is bad right now. It’s just not the picture of the life that I thought I would fall in love with.
If my life were a character in a fairy tale, it would not be the Prince Charming. It would be the pumpkin — the one that the horse-drawn chariot turns back into.
After years of bouncing around from big cities to overseas locations, I now live in a small college town in the Midwest.
I have a job that I like, but I work much more than I should, and I don’t make a whole heck of a lot of money.
I have a very small apartment that I love, but I can barely fit into the kitchen.
I have a small amount of savings, but a bigger amount of debt.
I’m healthy and physically active and eat a ridiculous amount of vegetables, but I’m also overweight.
I have a small group of local friends, and a huge group of Facebook friends, but I spend most of my time by myself doing stuff by myself — the kind of stuff that nobody else really does by themselves.
I’m single, and I have been single for a really, super duper long time. Like, you know when other people say, “I’ve been single for a long time”? Take however long they’ve been single and multiply it by about about a hundred-billion, and that’s how long I’ve been single.
Even my cat is kind of a jerk.
I haven’t done everything I wanted to do by the time I was almost-forty. I haven’t been to Antarctica. I haven’t slept in a yurt. I never published that book I was going to publish. Heck, I didn’t even write it yet.
But I’m much happier now than I feel like I’ve been in a long time.
This is not to say that I wasn’t happy with my life before. Or at least portions of my life before. I just feel like when I was younger, I was so fixated on all the stuff I didn’t have and the stuff I hadn’t yet achieved, that I was very rarely grateful for what I did have and for what I had accomplished.
Like, when I was thinner and able to fit into a pair of pants I could never even dream of fitting into now, I wasn’t happy about that. I just wanted to be even thinner and fitting into an even smaller pair of pants.
But now I’m all like, “Screw pants! Leggings for life!”
Is this what it means to be older and wiser?
Or is this just what it means to not give a shit anymore?
Either way it feels good.
It feels like I’m coming down the mountain after years of climbing and feeling really exhausted. And, then, even more years of being at the top of the mountain and being really unsatisfied with the view.
It feels like my hands are up in the air and my legs are galloping and I’m screaming “WHHEEEEEEEEE!” And I’m not even screaming it in my inner-kid voice anymore.
It also feels like at any moment I’m going to fall.
So I guess I should just enjoy it while I can.
What has getting older taught you?