Wow. So the big news for me over the next week is...um...gulp...uh...I'm turning 40.
It looks so weird on the screen. I surely don't have any negative ideas of 40...but I also don't currently have 1 friend or acquaintance that is 40. I know that must seem odd, to be cut off from those near my own age. I do know people in their lower to mid-30's, and my husband will be turning 30 this year (yeah, yeah, yeah). But 40? No. Not that it matters in the big picture, being the same age as everyone around you, I suppose, but it is something that stands out when chatting or discussing experience, careers, ideas, life before kids. It is just different.
My father died when he was 40. I was 18, in college, and not on speaking terms with him. I had an idea at the time that he was not *old*, but my youth addled brain also of course saw my own father as old...what kid doesn't think of their parents as old? Both of my parents were in that car crash, my mom injured in ways that took years to fully realize, but she survived. My dad. Well, he is perpetually 40 in my mind, frozen in time. And now I will be 40. I have a 4 year old & 2 year old. My youngest sibling - my brother - was about 4 when our dad died.
I don't have a fear of death, nor do I have a mid-life crisis, nor do I have a problem being a woman entering my 40s, nor do I obsess over aging or appearances. But my mind cannot help but to think of how I feel and who I am at this age...and that my father was just as young, as vital, and had young children. Like me. Thinking and feeling 40 ties me to him, in a way. To that man I did not get along with. Who pushed too hard, expected too much, had no patience or tolerance for failure of any sort, and who had only one idea of the acceptable path for my life, which did not include any of the things that were important to me.
I think over time that have I realized how much of my father is in me--anyway. My eclecticism. My drive. The bizarre sense of humor (that no one gets). A photographic memory. Fierce independence. Justice. The list goes on.
One of the few photos I have of him is just before he turned 40. He had an opportunity to model for a knitting magazine - a pattern titled super something or other - and he jumped at the chance just so he could tell everyone he was a SUPER model (yes, he was weird too). In that photo I see my face in there. My siblings have something of him in there, particularly my brother, but he is the young version of my dad...I am the old one. That is my smile, my eyes. And I have caught up to that photo.
In my past I have marked the bigger life moments with something, well, bigger. A ritual of remembrance-like hiking alone on a mountain somewhere. A tattoo for meaningful markation. Something to remember where I was, what I wanted, and who I planned to become--so it would keep me on some path I envisioned was of utmost importance. To not allow myself to slack or slide or settle from that. I think at 40 I don't need a tattoo. I have 2 sons. I have this great partner/husband. I know where I am, what I want, and who I have become. And no, I don't have it all right NOW and I have much room for improvement, but I'm OK with that. I know how much changes with time. And I know I am on a long journey.
My hope for my 40s includes many things - adventure, happiness, health, hope, compassion, peace, creativity, time, family, freedom, friends, love, knowledge, laughter, inspiration...and the freedom, from myself, to be myself.