Saturday, July 4, 2015


Why hello there, 46, you sly fox.

I don't know how you managed to surprise me.  It's not like I don't know you're coming.

I think maybe you hid out behind some of your younger siblings, like 28 or 32, and then pounced on me when I wasn't looking.

Speaking of siblings, some of them have been paying me visits. They like to come late at night, as I'm trying to fall asleep.  40 was particularly annoying last night. She wouldn't stop reminding me about the surprise trip to Bermuda I got from the husband I no longer have. 40 wasn't around for the rest of the story, so all she could do was remind me that back then I thought I would be married forever.

I remember being excited for the arrival of 44, because four is my favorite number and I thought this is going to be a great year.  It turned out to be especially sucky.  Back then I didn't know how dangerous expectations truly are, and I spent too much time waiting for life to get better instead of realizing that life was right in front of me, wanting to be appreciated.

50 made a cameo appearance last night, too. She whispered to me that she is right around the corner, that she will be here before I know it.  She kept saying that she is undesirable and decrepit and that I better get moving on finding someone to love me while I still have a chance. She must have been hanging out with 40, what with them both being milestones, and all.

I've been thinking about 16 a lot, too. Perhaps because I am about to get my license reinstated and I have to take the permit test, first. 16 pops up when I'm at the DMV for hours, waiting to talk to a bored employee who holds my fate in their hands, and gazing at the young hopeful drivers. I feel every inch of you, 46, when I'm surrounded by the ghosts of my youth.  It's those damn expectations again. I sit in those hard DMV chairs, surrounded by bright-eyed, tight-skinned teenagers waiting to get their first license, and 16 dances in front of my eyes and cackles, bet you never thought you'd be here at your age.

So, 46, I want to get a few things straight, while you're new here and all eager. Let's set some ground rules.

Feel free to chat with your siblings - both younger and older - but leave me out of it. Please do not disturb my slumber regaling me with memories of how awesome everything used to be, and how perilous the future looks.

I'm middle aged now, 46, and I'm getting wise to your game.  I've earned you, and I intend to wear your battle stripes proudly. Sure, 24 is free from stretch marks and wrinkles and her back doesn't scream at her when she sits too long. When she walks into a room the men turn and stare. That defined her, made her feel loved and worthy, and I'm going to let her have that, and love her for it. She was doing the best she could.

Your younger siblings all had a job to do, 46, and they did it well. They made us who we are today.

46, you will be tempted to tell me who I am not. You will hold me up against the dreams of the past; you will want to tell me what I used to be, and I used to be a lot of things. I used to be a size 8. I used to be someone's wife. I used to believe my parents would live forever. I used to believe in the tooth fairy.

You will think you know who I will become. You hang out with 49, 53 and 67 and you think you know, but you don't. I don't know if it's in your job description or something, but you and your siblings seem to think the past is all shiny and the future is bleak. But, 46, you are exactly who you are supposed to be. Resist the urge to gaze longingly at your younger siblings and wish you were them. They are inside you, 46. You don't need to compare yourself to them, because they are you.

Maybe you can be the first of your siblings to resist the siren call of the past and the tolling bells of the future. Because, 46, you are only going to be here for one year.

You may as well appreciate yourself while you are here. You are so many things, 46. You are funny and compassionate. You can make your kids laugh at the drop of a hat. You are surrounded by friends and family who love you exactly as you are. You wear the scars of your losses proudly, because they remind you that while you stumbled, you did not fall.

You will always look at your reflection in the mirror with a combination of surprise and awe. Surprise at the lines on your face, and awe that you still look damn good.  You know how to love yourself, 46. It took 45 years of hard won lessons to get here, so be proud of yourself.

Do you hear that, 46?  The sound of your kids laughing downstairs? Can you smell the bacon cooking?

That's a good place to start.