When I was younger one of my favorite movies was "When Harry Met Sally," and not because of it's most famous scene at the deli but rather because of the vignettes that were told by couples to show the passing of time in the movie. I loved the stories of how these people met and how their interactions expressed what their relationships were like. I can still recite most of the lines.
There is a moment in the movie when Megan Ryan's character has just found out that her ex is getting married and she says in a hysterical tearful moment,
"But I am going to be 40!"
Billy Crystal responds, "Yes, in 8 years."
"But it's out there, like a big dead end."
She was 32. I am now older than her character was, by 5 years. The dead end is closer than it ever has been before but that's really not my big revelation.
I had a birthday recently and it did occurred to me that I am almost 40. The number 4-0 is indeed a little startling. I am not afraid of it or paranoid about it. It is what it is. But I wonder what when if ever I will feel like an adult. I am married. A homeowner. A mother. A professional. And still there are days that I am not sure if I really feel, like an adult.
There are hints of my age that creep up on me like the idea of going out drinking makes me go "eh" and shrug my shoulders. Where there was certainly a time in my life that going on drinking on a Friday or Saturday night was a definite, not a fleeting thought. Now I consider the morning after. The dehydration and melon head feeling of going out the night before, is it worth it? Now, I also consider the calories. Is that tasty import worth the extra 20 minutes of exercise that I have to do? My answers are normally, a resounding no. It's not worth being half a person or half a mom the next day. To be honest, I am okay with that and there is a part of me that is happy about it too.
Getting older, at least for me, but I am willing to wage that this is the case for most women, is of course the fact that weight is harder to lose and pictures of myself when I was younger make me wish I appreciated my body more then, but what really triggers my, "whoa that's grown up!" moments are such small things like ordering coffee after dinner or better yet, offering people coffee after dinner when they come over. No 20 year old does that; that is an adult thing to do, well unless the 20 year old is a hipster.
This morning my colleague and I were talking about a friend that craved out a bizarre niche in life. He is successful and happy doing something that can not be found in a career counseling office or on monster.com. He found his passion and relentlessly followed it. Culturally it is so much harder to do such things. We tell kids to do what you love when you grow up, but what we really want them to do is to pick something practical. Be able to pay your bills, have health care and feel safe.
What makes 40 feel like a big dead end at times is the same thing that makes me realize that I am really an adult. There are still things I want to do, and there is a fear that I won't be able to do them. Don't get me wrong, the things that I am now are pretty fantastic. I will want be a wife, a mom, a teacher, a daughter, a friend...but there are few more things on the list and maybe one day adult will be on there.