Letter From My 48th Year (Jan 31)
Let me set the scene: I just got home from work. I’ve washed my hands because Metro. And now I’m eating a Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate 60% Cacao square because Sonda from Turtles Webb included them in the package in which she sent me the earrings she custom made for me. Cause I’m fancy. And cause the earrings I really wanted were the ones she was wearing and since it would’ve been rude to snatch them right out of her ears, it felt like the next best thing was to say Yes when she offered to make me my very own.
It is still odd to me that I can do things like ask someone to make me a piece of jewelry. Or own jewelry that’s not from Claire’s and costs more than $10. Or pay full-price for a piece of clothing if I really really want it and it’s not going to go on sale any time soon. I can also order pizza when I feel like it, have a martini when I feel like it, and even stay up past my bedtime on a school night. I mean I can do actual “grown-up things,” and have been able to do so for a long long time now. Yet I am still surprised sometimes when I find myself out at a “fancy” restaurant. Or I get an invite to speak at a professional conference. Or when I think about the fact that the 70s weren’t actually 30 years ago, but nearly 50 years ago.
Does one ever stop being surprised that one’s a grown-up? And is it a good thing or a bad thing or just a human thing to still be occasionally surprised that one is a grown-up? Which is not the same thing at all as having noticed I’ve grown in a particular area; it’s more superficial than that. But perhaps, also more profound?
I’ve been on a Happy, Sad, Confused podcast kick lately, and right now I’m partway through listening to (my hero) Josh Horowitz interview (my potential future husband) David K. Harbour. The future Mr. Beete was telling a story about being in college and mercilessly dissecting the performances of actors like Billy Crudup and Edward Norton. He talked about what it’s like to be in your 20s and be not only so damned opinionated, but so damn sure of your opinions.
I was thinking about that same youthful (passion? hubris?) yesterday listening to Timothée Chalamet chat with Josh; at 24, Timothée sounded so serious and intense about everything. And I just wanted to call him up and say, relax. This utter certainty and feeling that every action, every opinion, every thought is life or death will pass, and somehow taking that pressure off yourself will make life all the sweeter. And it’ll actually make it easier to take risks, to fail spectacularly and with aplomb and only mind a little bit.
When I was nearing my 20s I had a long, intense conversation with my Arizona born and raised friend Angelica about Daylight Savings Time. I’m pretty sure I called her an idiot because she didn’t know her state had daylight savings time (which, by the way, it does not). I also told her that something like a wash (a dry riverbed that only fills up during monsoon season) couldn’t really be a thing. I was so spectacularly sure I was right—I mean, I did mostly grown up in New York—and, bless my heart, I was so spectacularly wrong (about many many things for a very very long time).
I’m still wrong about things now, of course, but with age thankfully, hopefully, comes the ability to accept that there’s a slight chance that we could be wrong about the thing we think we know with utter certainty, and finding out that we are, in fact, wrong about the thing that we think we know with utter certainty, is a chance not for disgrace but to learn something, to grow a tad bit wiser.
The all-knowing “they” say that you’re really as young as you feel. There are some times when I feel exactly 48, when it’s not at all a surprise to me. But there are other times I think, Oh, but that’s a grown-up age and I don’t feel that way at all. Yet, I can’t tell you what age I do feel. I’m full of opinions, but I very rarely have that stridency I had in my 20s (and the times I am that strident about something, I usually regret it cause it almost always leads to a bit of bullying on my part). And though I have no idea what my path forward is, I also don’t feel as lost as I did in my 30s. And it’s fun to say I’m really 16 (with the romantic know-how of a 12 year old) but that’s not quite right either. (Though the part about having the romantic know-how of a 12 year old is indisputably true.)
This is the part of this blog post where I confess I don’t know how to write my way out of this one. I don’t know how to answer my own question. I really don’t know what age I feel inside, and maybe all those beauty mags and Oprah are wrong and age isn’t something you feel, it’s just something you are. And maybe the real sign of my age is I’m old enough to know that now. Maybe…?