Thirty-five is a weird age, isn’t it? Not quite a girl, not yet a woman. Cognitively adolescent, yet on the brink of dementia. Mentally willing, but physically unable. So many conflicting emotions.
Last year, when I got nauseous on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, I could tell that things were changing. The days of eating spicy food on a dare and joyriding with the wildest dude in town were numbered. I bought a house. I had kids. I had finally become a mature adult.
Last month, a few short weeks before my thirty-fifth birthday, I rediscovered the adolescent desire to express myself. I went out and dyed my hair red, have been considering (and reconsidering) piercing my nose (for the third time), and have been urging my husband to get himself a shiny, new tattoo.
I want to drink (only gluten-free liquor mixed with real fruit juice), dance (early – none of this after eleven stuff), and party like a rockstar (perhaps Jimmy Buffett, or Neil Diamond). Thing is, I can only drink when a) there’s no one home, and b) there’ll be no one around in the morning (which is never), the only jig currently in my wheelhouse is The Hot Dog Dance, and I generally cannot stay awake past ten.
I finally (after two years of freaking out) went out to a haunted attraction, and I was fine. I didn’t pee myself, or fall into a ditch, or experience a stroke. I had fun. The problem is, these fleeting, exhilarating moments give me the hubris to believe that I can, say, hit a bar, or go to a nine o’clock movie.
I want to rock with my socks off, but I get a little upset when one of my slippers slides too far under the bed.
Is this a midlife crisis? Overcompensation for an unrequited adolescence ? My last attempt to seize youth before it all slips away? Am I the Bad Terminator, reluctantly disintegrating in a pool of molten metal? Am I dying?
And sometimes I get this horrifying thought, a thought I can’t shake, a thought that would keep me up at night if it weren’t so damned easy to fall asleep: I’ll be forty soon. Forty years old. Me. The person who still calls her mom crying and dreams about what she wants to be when she grows up.
I’ll be forty years old soon. And that’s horrifying.
I want to be noticed, yet slip into the background. I want to eat the hottest plate of wings at the bar, skinny dip in the moonlight, and experience the vast richness of this world, but I must be home by nine. I want to hop on a plane and take off, but I’m tethered to my family.
But someday maybe I will, maybe I can. If the nose ring doesn’t hurt too much, and I can sneak in a little nap.