my sister and i gave this key chain to my father almost 23 years ago. i can guarantee that neither one of us believed what that scrap of metal said. i mean, come oooon, i was 17! i was on the verge of everything – boys college, late nights, LIFE. i remember hanging out at casting calls for SONY ads, bbq’s and late night drives to antwerp and the beach. i remember wondering if he liked me, and strategizing that if HE didn’t like me, maybe this other HE might. i remember week-ends at C’s uncle’s in rotterdam, i remember hamburgers at 4 am, and croissants at 5am (the post club appetite depended on whether the sun was out or not). in any case, those years on the edge of 17 were one long summer of mindless, irresponsible, indulged and privileged fun. turning 40 was for parents.
and now it is my turn, and i don’t feel like my parents at all. and i don’t feel like the 17 year old that gave her father a silly key-chain either. in two months i will become a 40-year old history professor with an aging farting deer-poop eating dog and a hot boyfriend. and more books she knows what to do with. and a manuscript deadline she’ll meet at the cost of more grey hair. and i have grey hair. i also have a lot of friends, a pile of cook books i actually use, and i still fit in the jeans i bought last year (my metabolism is NOT slowing down!).
there is SO much to be grateful for, and the fact that i know this confirms that i am not 17. when you are that young, you have no idea that your life could be completely different, and way more miserable, and that is is going to take some radical turns in the future. and i miss that sense of not knowing that the road ahead has an end. i miss the stupid bliss of worrying about what to wear to a party and who’s garden to have this week’s bbq in .
the problem with getting older is not so much the getting older part, it’s the awareness of it. i’ll gladly march to my 40s and 50s and 60s, i just wish i wasn’t so aware of the milestones they represent. i wish we didn’t have expiration dates.
so in order to simultaneously accept and subsume this reality, i am having a BIG birthday bash. champagne galore. friends en masse. delicious food and lots of cupcakes. we’ll celebrate the friends that are not with us anymore, the ones who reached their expiration date well ahead of schedule, all this to remind myself that as long as i am ON THIS EARTH, i better make it count. yes, i’m older, but i am not dead. and if i am not dead, i can drink champagne, and THAT is totally worth slouching towards anything for.