Saturday, October 15, 2011

On becoming an old bag...

 October is a great month. There are a lot of reasons why this is true and we could spend a great deal of time (not to mention the lists I could create!) going through all the reasons why October is probably the best month out of the year. However, today I'd like to focus on one reason: my Birthday.

Yes, I'm aware this reason tops a lot of "Why October is the Best Month Ever" lists out there, and to be certain that reason holding at least one of the top 3 spots of that list only makes sense. This year, however, my list was not like most of yours. This year, I was somewhat (or A LOT) dreading my Birthday.

I've always felt that people hating their Birthday was not only a super old person thing, but TERRIBLY cliche. In fact, I think the "hating of my birthday" was something Hollywood implanted into our minds as something everyone hates and everyone discusses hating and everyone can make jokes about hating or mock other people for or create some sort of standard accessible social cue. I think some of those cliches are just throwing the many "unfunny" or un-opinioned or generally socially awkward people out there a bone. "Here ya go generally socially awkward unfunny indifferent person... here is a standard joke or piece of cynicism or commonly shared experience you can always use because we've made it so EVERYONE can hate their birthdays. It will never fail!" It's like reverting to the weather to avoid discussing the elephant in the room "Oh Aunt Jane, let us discuss how beautiful this weekend was rather than how your two-bit hooker of a daughter went and got herself knocked up again!" Thank you Hollywood for providing such fodder for the inept. We've all had to resort to such outs in our lives and I for one, am not above the occasional "cliched" bit of cynicism.

Well come to find, this month I would find this socially inexperienced person commenting on the dreaded "birthday" as incredibly insightful and wise. "Why yes! I TOO hate my Birthday! For I am growing older." Ironically, that may be the measure of age is when you stop crossing off days until your Pretty Princess Birthday Party and instead think up ways to avoid said occurrence altogether; like straddling international date lines. Which as we know, only gets us a few days if we're lucky.  There's always cryogenic freezing I suppose - but I feel I missed my time to do that. 24 was my peak. If I were going to freeze my bodily time - that was the year. Hindsight is always 20/20 I suppose.

This year I turned 28. Here is where my crisis comes in. When I was a wee 19 year old first moving to SLC and attending my bran new Singles Ward, everyone I met was 28. I kid you not. Inevitably conversations would lead to those around me pronouncing their age and it would always be... 28. Once in awhile a 26... but mostly... 28. The stranger thing is - even as the years passed - every new person I met in my various Singles Wards or standing in line at grocery stores was always 28.

(That's actually not true -  not everyone being 28 part but the meeting people in a grocery line part. I mean - have you really actually ever MET someone in a grocery store line? Me neither... Hollywood cliche suckers us again!).

And usually, they were 28, single, somewhat resentful, and of course, haters of Birthdays. They also always seemed to have just a tinge of desperation... as if they were running out of time. Time to get married? Time for children? Well, maybe. I'm not sure as each case was likely different - but I always got the distinct feeling of anxiousness from these groups of 28's... and particularly the women. As if they felt they were walking the final mile and it was all downhill from here. 28 became a symbol to me. Anyone who was single was old at 28 (thanks a bunch Utah). Anyone who was on the cusp of inevitable spinsterhood... well... they were 28. Any 20 something Peter Pans were never going to grow up if they hadn't by now... at 28. The hopeless? 28. The angry? 28. The basement dwelling video game playing part-time jobbers? 28. The pickins were slim... the chances were minute. 28 is the end of happiness and the acceptance of a lack luster existence!

I never thought I'd be 28.

Even when I turned 27 - a fantastic year - I never thought I'd be 28.

So in about August - it finally started to sink in. Whether I liked it or not - I was becoming a 28. And I felt that anxiety that I had seen in all the eyes of the many many 28's in my life. I felt like I was running out of time... that I was at a crucial tipping point and if that thing that I wasn't sure of didn't happen soon, well you can forget it sister because it likely won't now that you're 28. I admit, I'd never taken the idea of "biological clock" seriously either. I guess at 28 the ticking is turned up exponentially.  I never thought I would have to start considering the idea of not being physically able to produce children. Yes, a little dramatic seeing as Hollywood has proven that women can bear children into their 40's, and Sariah in the Bible had a baby WELL into her 90's, but NEVER THE LESS! That's Hollywood and that's ONE person... in the HISTORY of the WORLD! I felt a squeeze on my soul... and perhaps a little proverbial nudge in my ovaries. Was I becoming one of those 28's? I'd heard of mid-life crisis - but quarter life and some change crisis? No one ever talks about those. But they're real my friends. Stop ignoring them.

August and September were hit and miss. I reflected on my existence - the possibilities that lay before me - and the sheer frustration that I was becoming one of those people that dreaded their Birthday! I didn't want to be one of those people and surely turning 28 wasn't the horror I had always witnessed, right?

Well, 28 came and here's the secret - I've never felt better!

 Mostly because I received this pop-up Birthday card bearing a chef-cat. How great is that?

But also, instead of dreading what I always thought a 28 year old single LDS female was, I decided to make sure I wasn't that person by simply choosing not to be. Why should I let a silly number effect my outlook and hopes about life? Why should I let a number ruin one of the greatest reasons I love October? Why should 28 suddenly make me into some baby-hungry psycho maniac?? Cause really, those will come in good time anyway.... and I have a Zooey to boot!

I decided instead of dreading my birthday, which would inevitably lead to more dread, to love my Birthday just like I did before I turned 28. I planned myself a little intimate soup party with close friends. I wanted to celebrate another year of health and happiness and living in America and freedom and the fact I had made it to 28 smiling and intact. In fact, I had made it to 28 still looking like a 20 year old and THAT my friends is indeed something to celebrate! Celebrate good genes! Celebrate being a wee person! I always knew this 5 foot 1 business would come in handy.

I've had to vocalize my age a few times since my Birthday and actually, I feel really great about it. I'm a 28. I've had some significant experiences, learned a lot of valuable lessons, and have had discussions with 23 year olds with 3 years of their freaking undergrad left and still subsisting on Mac&Cheese and am incredibly grateful I never EVER have to do that again. If you really think you want to be 23 or 21 again - go ahead and interact with a gaggle of them. I guarantee you will find a greater appreciation for where you are now and shudder at how far they have yet to go.

My goal as a 28 year old is to always be happy on my Happy Birthdays and never lie about my age. You heard me! Ask this woman her age! And she will tell you happily! "Why yes sir, no offense taken. For I am 28! And I am very happy to be right where I am doing what I'm doing and pressing forward for another year! So let them eat cake!" (Especially if its Grandma's recipe for chocolate rum cake.... nothing like a drop of rum to take the edge off).

 And in the spirit of my delusions - lets go ahead and not mention 30 okay? Baby steps.


Marisa Jean said...

28 is still so young! I don't understand why people make it out to be such a bad age either.

I'm glad you had a great birthday and holy cake. That looks divine!

Jaime Van Hoose Steele said...

People who hate their birthdays are crazy!! Crazy I tell you!!! I LOVE my birthdays, the deserts, the glorious presents, and getting what I want for a whole week! (because that's how long my birthday lasts) Sorry I was out of town for your birthday festivities, but I have ANTP saved on my DVR just for you to come over and watch :-)