Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In Which I Birthday (mostly) Alone

I have a history of bad luck on decade birthdays, at least if you consider one bad "decade" birthday "a history of bad luck", which I do, and you would, too, if you were on a business trip when you turned 30 and your husband forgot ("I didn't forget, I just didn't say anything about it!" << THESE WORDS ARE A BAD IDEA) and your boss casually informed you that he was basically strong-armed into hiring you against his will.

The upside is, my thirties only improved from such a bleak start.

With my 40th birthday looming and a weird glitch on the calendar, whereby Cory and the kids would have overnight plans and those "plans" included camping along with several of my closest local friends, it all felt doomed.

I mean, I can camp. I can sit in a lawn chair and watch kids swim and while away two entire days with smoke in my hair and marshmallows in my teeth. I've done it before and I'll do it again. It's just somewhat of a departure from how I would ordinarily define "celebration" or "milestone-honoring".

So I made a few plans, and they fell apart. Then I made new ones, but they wobbled. And all the while, my kids were gearing up for their favorite weekend of the entire year, my family lives out-of-state, and I was terrified of two things: 1) Cory feeling any level of guilt over not being around and 2) a surprise "party" of any kind, including the one where the waiters lurch upon you with a sombrero and the whole restaurant sings to you in Spanglish.

Disclosure: I sort of wanted to just roll with it all and be alone for the day, but I was afraid my butt would end up getting bit by a rogue self-esteem/estrogen/introspective/lame-brain bug (it's a thing) and I'd end up crying into Howard's fur on the dingy sofa before the sun had even set.

In the end, Sarah saved the day. (You remember Sarah. She's the one who told me the first day we met that we would be friends then ended up being my roommate through college, my neighbor in early real-adulthood, my no-nonsense, truth-telling friend-to-the-end through the death and resurrection of my marriage, the one who got married on my farm, and the bearer of the entire anthology of 25 years of my crushes, celebrity and otherwise. That Sarah.)

We would spend the morning together, and after that, I'd be on my own. Every time I thought about it, the line from Trampled by Turtles would pop into my head, "You come into the world, alone. And you go out of the world, alone. But in between, it's you and me, oh." I'll be honest, it weirded me out. At first it always seemed to make sense and I do love the song, but a beat later, it seemed like a bad omen of some kind. It made me jittery that maybe I was accidentally predicting my own death, on my 40th birthday.

I kept singing along anyway, because that's what a 40 year old does. She sings along. She doesn't care. She tries to tamp down the neurosis just a touch and reminds herself about God and sovereignty and the fact that TBT songs are pretty powerful, especially live, but yeesh, sister, they're not that powerful.

I woke up on my birthday and thought, "Yep. Today's the day I'm going to put on that weird 80's dress that I bought from the thrift store and never worn. This is it, players. I'm going to present my freshly-40-year-old self to the world as a twenty-something woman circa 1984. Try to stop me. Make me care."

I also woke up feeling like I wanted to go back to sleep a little, because the house had NEVER been quieter. So I did. Then I Voxed Sarah claiming 40th-birthday immunity and showed up 30 minutes late.

Our morning was so stellar. She baked me muffins and I ate two, over conversation with her and her hubs about old-people problems. We thrifted. We early-lunched. (Black and Bleu Salad with Balsamic, if you care.) I subjected her to a task I would only ask of my closest friends: "I'm going to stand here in the alley and can you take like twelve pictures of me in my 80's dress for Instagram?"

{bag by fashionABLE}

Oy, my people deserve so many crowns and sashes and bouquets.

I drove home on a strange, 40th-birthday-or-is-it-really-today? high and then I did the following: *Tried on the two swimsuits I got at the thrift-store for a total of $3. (Make me care. Make me think it's gross or unsanitary. I dare you!)
*Changed into ratty cut-offs
*Washed the dishes and vacuumed the living room (can't relax until this is done)
*Took pics of my thrift-store finds (including some plates because I am clearly afflicted)
*Listened to a podcast about minimalism at the exact same time I pondered where to store more plates
*Bought a can of tangerine San Pellegrino
*Drove to my happy place
*Discovered there was a private wedding about to take place
*Turned around to leave
*Remembered I'm 40 now and I won't be bossed around by a wedding on my birthday
*Turned back around
*Found a remote, secluded spot
*Spread out my blanket
*Read this book (which is slaying me dead, by the way)
*Drank my "healthy pop" (make me care)
*Stared up at the leaves and sky
*Voxed Meg
*Fended off a constant parade of daddy long-legs spiders
*Drove to one of the local taco trucks
*Scarfed down one carnitas and one asada with salsa verde
*Went to a movie. Alone. On a Saturday night/my 40th birthday (in case you'd forgotten)
*SOBBED MY FACE OFF, as in literally, I almost puked and/or choked (and I'd read the book, so I already knew how it ended...)
*Thanked Jesus and the Dental Gods that Sam Claflin didn't "fix" his teeth
*Composed myself
*Drove home
*Ate the tart Sarah had made me (with a whole vanilla bean!)
*Read in bed until my eyes couldn't take another word
*Fell blisfully asleep, a happy, grown-up introvert

Here's what I can tell you from this side. A birthday is just a day, but it also deserves to be honored, and not in the way your friends did, or the way people on TV do, or even in the way you originally thought you might like. Turning 40 might be the perfect time to peel back one more later, and peer inside. What moves you? What settles you? What do you crave? How introverted are you? Make it happen. Own it. If you can't appreciate your quirks, who will?

My life, as it turns out, is not over. So I can't speak to the whole "going out of the world alone" thing. But I can say that moving into my 40's is a pretty fulfilling new start, and heading into its wild blue with myself as my friend felt more than worthy and just the right kind of celebratory.

The world is calling my name. I can hear it.
And I know I'll sing along, but I might change the key because while I get that most women are sopranos, I'm an alto on a good day, and a high tenor before my morning tea and after midnight. I'll sing it in my own way.

Sue me. I'm 40.

*amazon links used