The New 40

“40 is the new 30,” said a friend of mine the other day.

That would totally and completely suck, I just realized.

Yes, my hair was blonder.

Me and my first, Dec. 2003, Tucson

Me and my first, Dec. 2003, Tucson

Yes, my breasts were firmer.

Yes, I had ten years ahead of me still ‘ til 40.

But …

wow. 30. 2004. Mom of one very restless baby. Up to my eyeballs in change … not bad change but the kind that causes upheaval that equals frequent upset. Orange vomit on my shoulder a lot. Not a lot of friends nearby. Unrealistic expectations of marriage, parenthood, community, work, friendship, life.

It’s not that I’m BRILLIANT now.

But I am now aware enough to know how dumb I am. And how age brings a wisdom born of experience that in some ways is better than firm breasts.

The more I speak about and write about 40, the more people (read “women”) say to me:

I loved my 40s

The 40s have been the best years of my life

I really found myself in my 40s

These kind of comments, from real people, are uplifting and have actually started to ignite in me a desired anticipation — the kind I remember feeling in the months leading up to 13. When was the last time we were truly excited for a birthday … not because we had a crazy evening planned or a vacation, but because it was appropriate to celebrate our advance? What happens to our birthday joy as we age?

I have a summer birthday and so I used to be very familiar with anticipation in advance of birthdays. My friends often reached milestones ahead of me : 13, 17 (driving age in NJ), 18, 21, etc. Those last few months before it was my turn were always killer. The summer I was 12, waiting for 13, I remember telling boys when they asked at the camp social, “how old are you?” that I was 13. That my birthday had been in April. For some reason, that mattered then. As if they wouldn’t ask me to dance unless I was old enough to have boobs. (The boobs wouldn’t come for 4 more summers.)

Last summer, when I turned 39, I remember feeling a sense of dread.  It didn’t help that last summer I also suffered from a bunch of moderate health issues, serious enough to impact my daily life . (It’s likely that at least half of them were stress-related, and maybe 1/4 “pre-40” related.)

My 39th birthday, spent with family by the Jersey shore was lovely, but undercut by a constant heartburn. The antacids didn’t help. The gluten-free diet didn’t help. The technology detox didn’t help. I understand now it’s because the heartburn was only partly physical. Much of it was existential. Prilosec can’t help with that. Not even the Wild Berry flavor.

This summer, I am determined to drop the burn. Be all heart. Feel 12 again. I am determined to want 40.  So badly that I pretend like I already am.

Boobs, or not.

 

 

 

 

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Take heed

What if the woman who’s leaving Bob Dylan in Boots of Spanish Leather returns one day?

Maybe instead of boots she just brings her older, softer, leathery self to a cafe where it’s said Dylan sometimes drinks black coffee.

I imagined that woman

and with her in mind, played a little with blackout poetry.

It’s the first time I almost like the result.

spanish letter blackout2

 Take Heed

I just thought you might want
a long ol’ time alone.
From the storm
From the Mountains of Mad.

I remember saying
I don’t know when I’ll be back
back to where time
depends on true love.

Can you ask me again?

Just carry yourself back to me spoiled.
That’s all.

= = =

(You can listen to 50 different covers of Boots of Spanish Leather on YouTube or this sweet Lumineers version.)

Throw my suitcase out there, too

The best coworker I ever had was the one who every morning sat with me for a half hour while drinking our morning coffee and did dream analysis with me.

She was good.

So was I.

Coffee + dream analysis = best way to start the morning.

I’m pretty decent on my own, but it’s more fun to analyze your dreams with a friend. I also really enjoy showing people the obvious connections they are missing. It’s pretty hilarious as a listener to understand immediately that your friend is simply exploring her fear of intimacy in her dreams of lesbian sex with the boss, when she can hardly sputter out the words, “sex with….”

Anyway, last night I had a version of a recurring dream I’ve had since moving to Israel 3 1/2 years ago. It was a few hours after waking, however, during shavasana (the deep relaxation at the end of yoga class) that I understood it. When I got it, though, I laughed out loud it was so obvious. Had I shared it over coffee with an experienced dream analyzer, she would have understood it in 30 seconds.

In the dream, I am in my childhood bedroom. I am an adult. I am there with two black duffel bags. I am packing for Israel. I realize that I have forgotten to pack my childhood books to send on the cargo shipment by boat. The books will certainly put me over the 50 lb weight limit the airline allows. I also realize a lot of my clothes are still in the drawers. Clothes I could use in Israel. Thick socks and the like.

I start making piles.

Piles to bring. Piles to part with.

Some items are easier to put in the “part with” pile than others.

I resent this process. I want it all to come with me. Not the old, stretched out long sleeve tees, but I want the socks and the books. Why should I have to leave them behind?

I notice, too, the formica furniture set is still in really good condition and I wonder why we didn’t ship it to Israel. We could have used it there.

But the furniture, I am able to let go of pretty easily. Not the books, though. I continue to make piles.

Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

My 5 year old daughter appears. She has some extra room in her duffel. She lets me put books in there. I am grateful. I rearrange some of her clothes to make more room. I wish I had a bigger bag — a large sturdy suitcase would allow for more weight than this duffel.

Suddenly, I am on the plane. I have a white cardboard box, the kind you use to store files, and it’s filled with paperback books. I am able to lift it up into the overhead compartment despite its weight. I worry the flight attendant will call me out on this, but she does not. Instead, she gives me a resigned look and allows it.

I wake up.

Feel free to leave your dream in the comments and I will be happy to give you my analysis in return.

Thanks to Corvidae in the Fields for inspiring this post with his recent one on the “Cube test.

 

The after-taste of a dream

My dreams are poems

Righting themselves upside down

in Not-for-long Ville.

 

Still fresh with relief

when I wake I take a pen

so I may keep them.

 

But the poems fade

faster than the dream even

when I whisper, “Don’t.”

 

What’s left then, but last

night’s dream, which will never be

anything more than