November 15, 2007

I Turned 40 and Lived to Tell the Tale

People do it every day, right? I don't get why women freak about turning 40; I consider them late to the party I guess. My own "crisis" birthday was when I turned 30.

The year was 1992. My best friend Kerry baked me a cake. It was in the shape of a coffin, the icing gray, the perky sentiment "Happy 30th Birthday Suzanne!" whimsically lettered in black. So very festive! So apropos. The cake inside was bright white, moist and delicious.

As much as turning 30 seemed a death of sorts, turning 40 felt more like coming into my own. What a difference a decade makes.

I had cake that year too, the year I turned 40. It was a surprise. I thought Wendy and I were going out for a romantic dinner. Turns out she had arranged a party at a local restaurant with friends from all corners of our life. A surprise party. Wendy. That Wendy. My shy, quiet, quasi-anti-social girlfriend. I never suspected a thing. Why would I? I loved it even more because she strayed so far out of her comfort zone. For me.

The allure of age 40 sparkled early in my life: "40," I planned, "I want my kid(s) to be grown by the time I'm 40." And so it was The Boy graduated high school and headed off to college when I was 40. By then I knew 18 years did not a grown man make but he was well on his way.

I hadn't thought much about what my own life would look like at 40. Just that the kid(s) would be grown. Thinking back, I marvel at my lack of concern. And at the fortunes that landed me where they did.

I am now halfway through my fourth decade. The slopes of my life have taken on more definition, my vision is clearer. Could be my eyesight is going bad, but some lessons are plain. I've learned the best laid plans can go awry and that can be a good thing. I've learned to trust my heart. I've learned being kind is always worth the effort.

My friend Teresa turns 40 today.
I hope she eats cake.

.

12 comments:

Average Jane said...

I'm loving 40. It's like a switch flipped and suddenly I've given myself permission to just be me. No more chameleon-like changing of attitudes, clothes, etc. Now it's all "what you see is what you get." Very freeing. :)

val said...

Average Jane hits it right on the head... '.. to just be me'.

And 30 was way more traumatic for me, too. 40, was just another year not realizing how insightful the next decade would be.

That was great that Wendy threw you a party!

Gina said...

I think 40 is gonna be good for me!

And happy birthday to your buddy!

the only daughter said...

Indeed!

teresa said...

I personally couldn't wait to turn 30, because most of my friends were older and I needed them to stop thinking of me as their kid sister. Now here I am, turning 40, and all my friends are thinking back to when they turned 40. Is 40 the new 30?

Being that I am my only child, I'm not sure I'll ever reach an age when I'm confident the kid is all grown up.

NerdGirl said...

My mom tells me each decade gets better and better...

Kindness is everything.

SassyFemme said...

The only thing I disliked about turning 40 was that I always thought women were their sexiest in their 30's, and thought it'd be all downhill for me. Now I'm seeing 40+ year old women as being pretty darn hot.

sporksforall said...

I didn't get her a cake. Is that bad? Also, how is it that Wendy arranged a party and I didn't? I'm so not worthy.

weese said...

40 is hot.

agoodlistener said...

Whippersnapper! You're positively a young whippersnapper. I agree with average jane--I am closing in on 60 (57 now), and I am feeling like people can just sod off if they don't like what I'm doing. Curmudgeon! I may become a curmudgeon. I wonder what it pays.

Jennifer said...

Ah, 40. I remember 40. 40 was a very good year.

But come to think of it, every year after has been better than the one before it.

Thirty is the one that freaked me right the hell out. Now, closing in on fifty, it all seems as easy as down hill from here.

Not OVER the hill, mind you. Just DOWN hill.

WenWhit said...

LOL @ AGoodListener!