I am pretty sure that forty, or a few years after forty, is the most dangerous age known to man.
At 39, I knew I had my life figured out. OK my husband died soon after I turned thirty-nine but still I’ve witnessed this age collapse with my forty-something friends. In the two short years I have been in my forties I have been called reckless, slutty, wild, crazy, silly, polarizing and several other words that are not necessarily kind or positive and I am not sure I care. Again, yes I am dealing with this whole dead husband thing but again I have seen my friends lose their proverbial shit at forty. It doesn’t seem to be a full on crisis per say but it is definitely a crisis of self. The questioning of who I am and where I belong seem to be preeminent in the mind of forty-somethings. When my mom was turning forty, I was turning twenty and to celebrate she made me, yes made me, drive from Anchorage, Alaska to Los Angeles, California. I learned so many things during her soul searching cross-country adventure, like how to sleep when Paul Simons Graceland is blaring on the car’s cassette deck; how to sleep when your mother is engaged in a conversation with you; and, most importantly, how to sleep in the middle of the dessert when you are certain the locals are going to actively hunt you down and kill you for sport.
For many years I was puzzled by this innate need of my mother’s to go on this journey.
But now that I am in my forties I have a clear understanding of why my mother needed this trip. A purifying of soul if you will. I often feel the need to escape with Overstreet, to purify our souls in Lake Minnetonka (if you get that reference you are awesome). In my fantasy we drive as far and as fast as we can, escaping our shitty lives and traveling beyond our insecurities to a safe haven. I imagine I am in a place where I no longer question myself and my decisions. I am free from the self doubt that plagues me as a mother, a girlfriend, a daughter.
I am free from the clutter of my mind and I am just simply happy and thin; in my fantasies I am always thin. Like Beyoncé thin (yes I’m obsessed with that bitch, please refer to blog post I hate Beyoncé). Overstreet and I often plan our escape if you will. We longingly dream of exotic places where no one knows us and our faults or insecurities. We research and plan and cajole each other into traveling to the most wonderful of places, yet the furthest we have ventured is Vegas. We, at the age of forty or there about, have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. You have a fully developed understanding of life basics, compassion, self-worth, balancing a check book, but you have yet to really implement what you know, you know?
In your forties understanding and believing are two totally different concepts that live side by side. I understand that I am worthy and fun and funny as fuck but if I am not invited to a party that everyone else is invited to, then dear God my understanding of myself is altered and not in a good way. But if I truly believed that I am fun and cool as shit then would I care if I wasn’t invited to a party? Nope, because understanding is not believing. If I or any other forty-something truly believed the shit that they understand, then Facebook would have a completely different landscape. Instead of people trying to prove what fun they are having and how many friends just “love” them, we would have posts about…well I don’t really know but I know shit would look different. I know tons of forty-somethings and on the surface their life appears normal and cohesive and even sane, but once you crawl inside their life, it looks like everyone else’s forty-something life, confusing and maddening, a bit chaotic but still awesome in it’s own right.
The new saying I keep hearing is 40 is the new 20 however I don’t believe that is true. At twenty, I basically said “fuck you” to anything that was impeding my progress. I knew I was somebody, I knew I was a fucked up mess, but I was MY fucked up mess. I could stay up all night, attend school all day and sleep on a futon mattress on the floor and like it. At forty, not so much. I can still stay up all night but only with the assurance that I will at some point get a nap of at least two hours the next day. I can still attend school and by school I mean the Spanish learning app on my phone for at least 10 minutes and now the only thing I say “fuck you” to is Abercrombie and Finch because their music is too loud at the mall. I won’t even discuss sleeping on a futon mattress cause that shit will never happen.
Mary Ann tells me that fifty is fabulous and more carefree than forty. She also mentions that at sixty, the sex is better, with a few adjustments, but I am really more interested in the belief part of age. I am truly anxious to find out the exact moment when I believe the wonderful attributes about myself and not just understand them. If forty is the new twenty, then twenty is the new toddler, which absolutely makes sense when I see twenty year olds anywhere. Twenty year olds seem like crib dwellers to me, always shoving stupid, inappropriate shit in their mouths, whining about their lack of toys. When I am in the presence of these “toddlers” my first thought is to always remind them how hard our forty-something life was by saying something like “do you know what a rotary phone even is? If you made a mistake on one of those you had to wait for the rotary to come all the way back around, ALL THE WAY BACK AROUND!” I might as well be yelling at them to pull up their pants or get off my lawn. Maybe I am truly in my forties and maybe I do believe instead of just understand how amazing life, my life in particular, is, but I guess I won’t really understand until I am in my sixties, which will then be the new forties. I can’t wait!