I have been blithely approaching forty with a bit of a mental swagger.
Can’t scare me, forty. Puh!
I’ve always been mildly exasperated with women who lose the plot over a number. It’s just a number! Every birthday you are always turning an age that is younger than what you will be. Photos of you at this age will always look young when looked back on by your older self. No worries. It’s no big deal.
And then yesterday I looked in the mirror and got face slapped with a realisation. Oh. Forty. Maybe you just don’t get it until you are there.
A sneaky snake of an idea began sliding in under the welcome mat of my mind.
Old. That’s what forty is, it whispered.
No it’s not! Perhaps it doesn’t help me fight that sneaky snake, that I already have a pacemaker, use a cane and have enjoyed my first outing on a mobility scooter. I already feel like my body is geriatric. I don’t feel young and looking in that mirror I see the effect of all those years, all the struggle. I’m not wrinkly, but I look defeated, tired, a bit sad really. And suddenly all my bravado about meeting forty head on is dissolving.
I’m going to be forty for crying out loud.
How did this happen so fast? My insides are still twelve! I’ve been playing an elaborate game of dress ups and pretending to be grown up. How can my outside be turning forty! Far out.
It’s fair to say there is a little bit of panic going on here.
I’ve never liked snakes.
I am eschewing a party.
Not for me the whooping-it-up-gathering.
I’m not alone. My beautiful cousin Erica is turning forty, too. I’ve known her since the day I was born and I feel so lucky to have been given the gift of her friendship through my family ties. Our mums were sisters. We have a lot in common and it’s a comfort to laugh at our genetic quirks together! She fell in love with an Australian, and as it often goes, she followed him across the continent of Australia to live in Perth. I miss her every day.
So! Why not go and turn forty with Erica? There is no one I would rather turn forty with, and I am meeting her half way between our homes. Isn’t that a cool plan? We’re going to rendezvous in Adelaide. So excited!
I’ve been there before. I completely fell in love with that town. I love the order and neatness, the creative quirkiness, the variety and beauty. It’s a stunning place. And they have this amazing market place there, right in the centre of town. I have never forgotten the food! So Erica and I are going to hang out together there for a few days. We’re going to toast our first forty years together with a nice cuppa tea and ring in the next lot. We’re going to catch up on hours of chats and laughter. We’re going to sleep in every day and revel in the break from all mothering and wifely tasks. We’re going to indulge ourselves and revel in the freedom of us-ness. It’s going to be EPIC. In a sedate kind of fortyish way.
I’m dreading the flights, but I have planned for lots of rest when I get there. I am researching scooter hire after my recent successful experience. That will help a lot. We might even get to those markets, all going well!
When you are sick, having something to look forward to is so important. Planning can make you anxious; the fear of cancellations and postponements can make you not want to even try. Flexibility in your planning matters. But having something wonderful to look forward to also makes you excited, hopeful …happy! It’s a great distraction from the daily thought wheel. I might be all of those things that I saw in the mirror. But I am still me. And that is beautiful in it’s own kind of Rachie way. I might be limited, but I am able. I might be sick, but I am not giving up. I might be turning forty, but I am much more than the age on my passport or the face in the mirror. I reckon with a little bit of solidarity and sisterhood from my little big cuz, I can make it over the hill with a smile on my dial.
Are you sick? What happy plans are you hatching?
Have you hit forty yet? How did you celebrate?
Have you been to Adelaide? Any recommended restaurants or must-visit spots? Not the crazy hot nightspots, more the sedate kind of activities suited to the gerries. (Ahem. Keeping it real!)
This song. Another thing you don’t get until you are actually there.
“Now the winter at our window feels so cold”