For the past five days I’ve been twenty-seven.
And I must tell you that I have spent the better part of two of them laying prone on my couch: alternately moaning, snacking and watching the real, hysterical brides of New York City pick out wedding dresses.
Hangovers, it seems, are not what they used to be. Rather–they used to not be, and now they very, very much are. All I can do is thank God for Fleetwood Mac, toasted Ritz crackers and ginger ale.
Don’t worry, I’ve not suddenly become a binge drinker–and I don’t think the past few days foreshadow that changing anytime soon. (They can’t: I’d lose my job. How does anyone drink so much?)
So: certainly, I’m feeling the fact that getting older comes with inevitable, often unwanted physical manifestations.
I’ve also felt some of the typical expected, existential angst.
The night before my birthday for example, I lay awake in heady contemplation of my age turning. I thought: “Hmm. Twenty-seven. Not so significant.”
And then: “What’s my next significant birthday? Oh. Thirty.”
And then: “I guess birthdays aren’t significant in a good way anymore.”
Also: “I’ve always thought of myself as being really young. When did that stop?”
But, after a few more-and-less-productive days, I can happily report to be feeling distinctly positive about my new age.
For one, twenty-seven is getting good reviews. Most of my friends are at least halfway through it–if not several years past it–and overall, reports are enthusiastic.
“It’s a good number,” one new friend commented at my birthday celebration the other night. “You’re old-er, but not yet old.”
Also, the year got off to an immediately good start. The first thing I saw when I woke up–after Bonita’s impatiently wagging tail in my face–was a selection of goodies that S had subtly waited up to leave atop my computer: a bag of candy corn (a guilty pleasure), an issue of Oprah magazine (another one), a beautiful pair of pink earrings (I lose all mine) and a water bottle (I lost that too).
(Twenty-seven, like any age, is made infinitely better by having a best friend/roommate/partner in crime who, to borrow a cliche, knows you eerily better than you know yourself.)
And, happily, the suffering both of us endured post-birthday dinner and post-birthday party were pretty well worth it. For all my moaning about being separated from my college crew and best girls from high school, the truth is that I know some pretty excellent folks around here who gave me a truly excellent pair of nights.
Finally, I will confess that one of the several reasons I have not blogged in over a week (others include: sloth, champagne, student papers and tact) is that I was working on a revision of a nonfiction essay for workshop. (You may recall, as I sometimes do, that the nominal reason for my being in New Mexico is to produce writing besides this.)
I cannot tell you what this essay is about. Not because I like to withhold things–you know me better than that. But because I’m still not sure. According to the various craft essays this professor has had us read so far in the semester, I may figure it out–or, rather, the writing will reveal it to me–some time between the third and seventeenth draft. Stay tuned.
Anyhow, regardless of the essential subject, one aspect of the piece involves me asking a few people I know who are in evidently successful relationships how and why they are successful. One of my subjects was a close friend of my mother’s, D: a woman who spent about thirty years single before meeting a man, online, who is by all accounts the closest thing to a soulmate that a person who is skeptical of soulmates could allow.
When I asked her what prepared her for being in a healthy partnership with him, the first thing she mentioned–besides therapy, here I go giving everything away–was age.
Basically, she said, a flip switched when she turned fifty: suddenly she was not so self-conscious.
“I hope it happens sooner for you,” she said.
“Me, too,” I replied–fairly certain that neither of us would wager that it will.
Fortunately, though, everything is relative. I’m sure the fifty-year-old me will surpass the twenty or thirty, and perhaps forty-something version when it comes to self-awareness and security.
But for now it’s good enough comfort to feel confident that my twenty-seven year old self will likely feel stronger and more self-assured than I did at twenty-six.
There is beauty–excitement, even–in getting older. So be it if there’s also a decline in tolerance. That’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.