Am I Really Thirty-Nine – er – Forty?

You bet your walkman-wearing britches I am!

The other day I turned the magic number of forty years of age.  It was a great night out with friends and included many a cocktail. Good stuff.  One young couple of maybe twenty-one staggered up to me and slurred said, “Wow! You look good for forty!” What did they expect? The creepy old crone from Snow White?

It was then that I remembered how the young view the “older than me” category.

I was ten when my dad turned forty.  My mom threw him a party and everyone bought him “Over the Hill” regalia. I remember thinking, “Damn, that’s old. What’s with the black balloons?  Hmm, maybe I should have bought him a cane.  Poor old, old dad.”

Clearly I was wrong.

In reaching these milestone birthdays, it is common to look back on one’s life and take inventory:  Am I where I thought I would be? Have I accomplished all that I have set out to do? What have I learned?

I am no different. So for kicks, I thought would share my ten-year-old thoughts on what I thought forty would look, in comparison to what has really happened.

Pop in your Depeche Mode tape, and travel back in time with me:

10-year –old Me

I will be married to John Taylor of Duran Duran.

What Really Happened

I am married, not to John Taylor, thank God. He’s way prettier than me and would probably steal all my face creams.

10-year –old Me

I will have seven boys.

What Really Happened

Ladies and Gentlemen, my uterus has left the building. Seriously, seven? Bah! I have one awesome girl, and let me tell you, she could do circles around seven boys. I guess I was watching a lot of Little House on the Prairie and Eight is Enough at the time.

10-year –old Me

I will live in a penthouse in NYC.

What Really Happened

I live in a home outside of Boston. It’s pretty cool, but very far from a high rise. I remember this housing goal so clearly. I pictured myself staring out the window, looking over the city in my purple rayon pantsuit, with shoulder pads, and long lacquered nails. It’s something I conjured up after watching the movie Mannequin.

10-year –old Me

I will not be like my mother.

What Really Happened

I am exactly like my mother. Right down to the loud talking, repeating myself, and constantly wiping down countertops. When I reached college I was shot with a lightning bolt of realization –  my mom is pretty much the coolest person walking the face of the earth and I have her DNA.  So be it life, she is bitchin’.

10-year –old Me

I will be on the hit show Fame. I loooooooved this show. I wanted to be in Debbie Allen’s dance class like nobody’s business. You know the opening credits when she is talking all serious and beating that stick on the wood floors? Oh, I get chills just thinking about it. That and she was always up Leroy’s ass about something. A recipe for awesome.

What Really Happened

I still watch reruns. That and I read trash magazines about famous people.

While my ten-year-old self is looking at me now and probably thinking, “What gives sister? Couldn’t you have done at least one of those things? And where are your legwarmers?”  I know better.

What parents, family, friends, and others in general don’t tell you, are all the things you learn and experience along the way to get to forty. How can they? There is so much.

How can you tell a child that you will learn to be comfortable in your own skin? How can you tell a child one day you will experience a love that will rip away at you and fill you up at the same time? Nobody can explain what it feels like to have life growing inside you, and that you could wrestle a bear with your bare hands to protect that life.  Can someone really explain how good it feels to walk on your own, pull up your pants by yourself, or be medication free after back surgery? How can a person put into words the sense of giddy gratification when you are in your first apartment, buying your own groceries, and paying your own bills? When your graduate school professor hands you the diploma you earned and you think, Holy sh*t! I did it! How do you tell a ten year old that one day she will know which friends to keep and which one to walk away from?

You can’t. You have to live it.

While I have accomplished many things these past forty years, unless I am updating a resume, I really don’t think about them. What I do think about are all the experiences and feelings that have puzzle-pieced together, well, me.

When it is your birthday and you are evaluating your life, think about what really pops up. The fact that you pitched a perfect game, or the feeling it gave you?  When you booked that acting gig, or the journey it took you on? The fact that you can say I have a child, or the feeling you get when you see them running up to you after school?

Forty is not the new twenty, but it is not the end of anything, by any means.  And I feel good – like macrobiotic-eating-freaky-yoga-touting Madonna good. Thank God no one gave me any black Over The Hill  balloons, because I would have choked someone with them – just like Madonna would do.

I’m starting this new decade of “Forty-geddon” with high hopes and big plans! I hope you will join me for this ride.

Right after I get rid of this mother of a hang-over.

4 thoughts on “Am I Really Thirty-Nine – er – Forty?

  1. Happy Birthday Cathy!! You do look fabulous! Great seeing you this summer. 40 is still looking pretty young to me!

  2. Hey Catherine! Happy belated birthday. Thanks for the shout out to all us other 40 year olds. Would love to catch up with you sometime now we are so close. My email is Hope to talk soon, Jennifer (Kille) Hiscoe

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