I'm Feeling' 42
The temperature finally broke 70. Top dropped. Radio cranked. Tangled hair, don’t care. The wind and sun feel good on my face after a punishing winter.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ forty-twoooooo!” I belt as I pull in the driveway, switching up the lyrics to meet me chronologically, serious and enthusiastic in my duet with 22-year-old Taylor Swift.
Of whom, by the way, I am not a fan. Her lemony pucker and perpetual cat eyes incite immediate eye rolls from me, but dammit it if she doesn’t write a catchy lyric. Besides, I am far too involved in the spirit of the tune to care who I am singing with.
I throw the car in park and let myself in the front door. There’s nothing like the right music and sunshine to lift a girl’s spirits. Once inside I am greeted with love by my dog and her speedy-metronome tail. I crouch down to kiss both sides of her snout then hold her face right to mine.
“Everything will be all right if you keep me next to you-ooo,” I continue singing, nose to nose with her. She groans.
This whole scene, however, is tangential to the fact that I have announced my age in song. In a loud, do-not-care volume.
Turning 30 was a non-issue for me. Forty? Different story. I had anxiety leading up to it, and for a good while I was in denial. When asked my age my tongue immediately rested between my teeth to form the beginning of thhhhh– irty-something only to remember it’s really fffff-orty.
Forty sounds old. Let’s be honest, it looks kind of old. And 42? It sounds and looks even older.
Not only am I white knuckling the aging process by using copious amounts of moisturizer, there are other realities that go along with being of a certain age. Fashion realities. Recently I was talking to my sister while perusing Rue La La.
“Do you think I’m too old to pull off a romper? “ I asked, scrolling through several options in this latest trend.
Long pause. A reaalllly looooong pause.
“I guess that’s a yes,” I said.
“Well,” she finally spoke. “It is called a romper.”
Apparently, the romper ship had sailed. In 1975.
When I became Ms. Forty Two I imagined I’d be shopping the runway, hosting sophisticated dinner parties, or speaking about important worldly things at TED conferences. Ms. Forty Two is mature.
However, a switch never flipped when I crossed over from 39 to 40, or from 41 to 42. And now I was faced with a major disconnect between the way 42 sounded, looked, and should be than the way 42 felt.
Meanwhile, the switch is not flipping but the calendar is, so I might as well embrace it. Who cares what the number is? In many ways I am the same person I have always been, but with more life experience, a few more wrinkles and a questionable sense of style. I don’t think I’ll ever feel as old as I am.
I tested this revelation out on my sister, who is 8 years younger than me.
“Do you feel your age?” I asked. “Do you feel different now than you did 10 years ago?”
“You’re kidding, right?” she asked. “Was 25 different from 35? Let’s see. I have two kids. I just walked in the door from story time at the library. I haven’t slept in days. Ten years ago I’d have been justifying a cocktail on lunch break and seeing who was down to hit Cabo Cantina after work. Not to mention the fact that I was 114 lbs then. So yes, it’s different.”
I might have caught her at a bad time.
Since my sister wasn’t going to support my theory I conducted an informal poll of some friends via text. I cast my net wide enough to cover multiple geographies, parents and non-parents, and both genders. Their responses came back rapidly and were unanimous. Not one of them feels their age.
I would never trade in 42 for 22. Yes, my skin might be thinner, I have more responsibilities, and I’m a little long in the tooth to sport the latest fads, but I’ll take the confidence, calm, and general comfort level in my own skin that comes with age. It’s an easy tradeoff, really.
When my husband arrived home from work I was still humming that tune.
“Do you feel your age?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “And no.”
I knew exactly what he meant.
“Well I just want you to know that I am totally fine with being 42. I’ve decided.”
“That’s good,” he said, then kissed my forehead. “But you’re 43.”