Monday was my birthday. I turned 35, fully entrenching myself into an age I could never quite picture. Me? Thirty-FIVE?! I’m the age I used to think was so ooollllddd. As in, orthopedic shoes and beauty shop curls old. But, alas, here I am. I have arrived, people. And while you’ll find no perma-curls on my head, instead, at 35, I’m at the age where:
- I’ve begun to realize that the picture I have of myself in my head does not match the face I see in the mirror. The face I see has some wrinkles now, and I’ve begun doing that pulling-back-on-my-skin thing I always saw my mom and aunt do. And I ask: once your jawline disappears, where does it go, exactly?
- I can no longer pretend that I’m “just” out of my 20s.
- More so, I’ve realized that the 20s weren’t really that great. The 20s were a lot of insecurity and spaghetti-and-Ragu and finding my path in the world and Saturday morning hangovers and accruing student loans at a rate that would make our current debt ceiling seem totally manageable. So I may be–gasp!–35, but at least I’m not in my 20s.
- Wearing a bikini at a public pool is no longer just wearing a bikini. No, wearing a bikini now means threatening to court one of two reactions from bystanders: either “Good for her!” or “Hmm. Trying too hard?” Neither is a good response, but it’s what happens when you’re 35. And that’s just the cold, simple, midriff-baring fact, ladies and gents.
- I’m on a slow march t0 40. No avoiding that one anymore. What’s next? Cataracts?
My birthday, indeed. A low-key one, yes, because between the ages of 21 and 65, sometimes there’s just not much going on. I think I confused the delivery guys, though, because over the course of a couple of hours, the doorbell kept ringing (my family loves me. My family also sends really awesome flowers on my birthday, apparently. They’re gorgeous. Come over, quick, because my house looks and smells like the happiest funeral home on the planet). I’d taken Saoirse out back for a swim while Quinn went down for her morning maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won’t nap, so let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in party regalia. Every time I’d answer the door, a guy would look me over (apparently I won’t be starting an old softball t-shirt/gym shorts/wet chlorinated ponytail trend anytime soon), hand me the flowers and attached balloons and say, “Um? Happy, uh, birthday?” So embarrassing.
We met up with my mom and bro for dinner, because both of them live just a half hour away and by golly, there will be drinks and appetizers. Oh, and when I say, we, I mean me and the girls, because David was stuck at work, then stuck on the interstate during a massive thunderstorm the whole time we were there. Apparently the meals were very good–I didn’t get a chance to eat because I was playing frisbee with Quinn, who, after an hour in her high chair waiting for food, finally flung herself back, kicked her feet up on the table like a mob boss holding court, and started chucking whatever she could find at me, over her shoulder–toy cars! sunglasses! grilled cheese! steak knives!–or at her sister. Relaxing, it wasn’t.
I think the person who enjoyed my birthday the very most was the 3-year-old. Saoirse Kate was in her glory. She’d insisted on ordering my cake (at Wegman’s, with her dad), so by golly, it was covered with pink and purple flowers. She was absolutely giddy about blowing out the 47 candles she put into the cake, and even giddier–hysterical with joy, I tell you–to “help” me open some gifts (she’d peer into a box, politely saying “Oooh. That’s boo-ful!” before tearing into the next one). And of course, there were balloons. Balloons and balloons and balloons. Thankfully, Saoirse got to them before the cat did, because at least SK is less likely to ingest the strings and then throw them up later on one of my shoes.
There you have it. I know, it wasn’t one of my more thrilling, grab-’em-by-the-collar sort of stories (if I have any of those, actually), but that was my day. I’m 35. Can’t avoid it, whether I’m wearing the two-piece or not. I’m a grown-up, and I’m still paying off those student loans. But, hey. At least I”m not in my 20s.