I was holding onto 35 like a baby with a pacifier. I didn’t want to let it go. How could I top 35? This was my year of complete self discovery. This was the year when I finally found me and unapologetically embraced me. Not to mention, there is something very complete about being an age where it can be divided evenly into 5. Living in LA there is a thing as ageism more so than anywhere in the country. Women start getting Botox at the age of 25 (myself NOT included for the record… no judgment though). I was having a debate with a co-worker of mine about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. When men hear of women wanting more money in divorce settlements they suddenly freak out. A side bar, most of the high level executives I know are married to “Stay at home” moms. These are women that they met a Brown, Harvard, Berkley, Stanford who in addition to getting their BA’s they got the MRS. And those prestigious high pedigree degrees are now being used to take kids to soccer practice, change shitty diapers, and pick out the best color to paint the living room walls. I think any thought of a divorce and their housewives getting half of their fortune sends most men into a panic attack. We got into a heated debate.
Coworker: Why does she deserve half of his earnings?
Me: He was a nobody before they met. She put him on the map!
Co-Worker: What was the last successful movie Demi Moore did?
Me: That’s not the point. Before he met her he was just on “That 70’s Show” and had just started “Punked.” Once they met and married his career blew up. Trust me he wouldn’t be where he is now without her.
Co-Worker: Demi needs to chill out. Besides she’s over 35. It all goes downhill from there! Good luck finding a guy to date when a woman hits post 35!
I laughed along with the co-worker to prevent myself from running out of the room and jumping off the ledge. I blew off his comment on the outside but in the inside I was de-fucking-flated! Was this what I had to look forward to at 36? Was I officially yesterday’s news and now relegated to the senior special side of the menu? Should I send a request to AARP for an early bird membership?
I went home that evening and did a long extended facial mask. When I rinsed it off I looked at myself in the mirror. I still had it going on. My teeth were gleaming white; my skin had a youthful glow to it. My Botox free face was didn’t have any wrinkles. My breasts were still perky (maybe not 26 year old perky) but damn it I could still go braless and have confidence and my regular gym routine had me secure with going to Martha’s Vineyard for my annual family trip the following week and rocking my brand new overpriced bikini (how can something with so little material be so damn expensive?)
But as August 6th was fast approaching I had this heavy cloud hanging over me. And the crazy thing about this shit was my friends who are in their 40’s are all so damn fierce and fabulous. I truly looked up to them. So why was I suddenly scared… no actually, the proper feeling would be petrified that I was turning 36 a.k.a 4 years from 40. There was an evil choir that was singing in my head similar to in A Christmas Story how they sang “You’ll shoot your eye out.” That same choir was singing in the same tune, “4 years from 40… 4 years from 40… 4 years from 40…”
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bothering me. I had a full life. I have a great family that loves me unconditionally. Recently, my mother had successfully come through a health scare and got the thumbs up from her doctors that she was okay. My various circles of friends were inspirational and had my back, my career was blossoming, and my love life was full. I was currently experiencing some dating highs and allowing myself to enjoy being single while opening myself to the possibility of love. What was causing me to freak out? Why was 36 such a daunting number? In other words, what the fuck was my problem?!
The timing for the annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard couldn’t have come at a better time. My family and I have gone to Martha’s Vineyard every summer for the last 12 years. It is a place that is so magical to me. The beauty of Martha’s Vineyard is seeing all the families out and about together. You see generations and families of all ages. I loved lying out at the Inkwell and seeing couples with the cutest kids. You see these masculine men building sand castles with their young toddlers and mothers showing their sons how to fly a kite. It’s really one of the most magical places on the planet for me. It’s also a place where I can go and be me. No makeup, no heels, just the authentic me. I wake up in the morning and watch the sunset and in the evenings we head out to Menemsha and watch the sunset as a family as we eat lobster and clam chowder. Our last evening in the Vineyard we were invited to one of my mother’s friends homes for dinner. I had the privilege of meeting her teenage daughter and her friends. They were beautiful, energetic girls who were about to start their freshman year of high school. They had so many ambitions and dreams. They had a style to them that was fresh and classic. They reminded me of… me 20+ years ago. As I sat and listened to them talk about starting high school and boys and the latest teen craze Lana Del Ray and One Direction (they were keeping my ass relevant). I smiled. I remembered those days. Those days when you felt like you had your whole life ahead of you. Those days when there were endless possibilities and you dreamed big and didn’t worry about failing. As I gave them advice about being a COM (creature of mystery) in high school and not being a fast ass they then started asking me about me. When I told them I lived in LA they all gasped in delight in unison.
Teenagers: LA! You live there. Oh my goodness that’s so cool. Do you see movie stars?
Me: All the time. Miley Cyrus goes to my grocery store.
Teenager Girl: No way! That is so cool!!!! Wow you rock!
Teenage Girl: Yeah! I want to move to LA one day!
Me: I love it there. I was your age when I knew I wanted to live there.
Teenage Girl: Can I give you my number so we can keep in touch?
Teenage Girl: When do you leave the vineyard?
Me: Tomorrow. Back to reality for me.
Teenage Girl: What a great reality! I want your reality.
Teenage Girl: Yeah! You have an awesome life! Way cool!
Me: (long pause) You know what…. You’re actually right. Thank you!
Teenage Girl: For what?
Me: Just for being you…
It’s amazing that it took three 14 year old girls to snap me out my birthday slump. Here I was feeling all down and out because I was about to be four years away from 40. I wasn’t allowing myself to appreciate where I was and how far I had come. When I returned to LA I went into my storage closet and pulled out my old journals (yes I have been journaling since I was a kid and I have kept most of my journals). I turned to my journal entry from when I turned 15. I had listed all the things I wanted in life.
1- Move to LA
2- Become Famous
3- Marry Grant Hill, Larry Johnson, or Scottie Pipen
4- Have Kids
5- Drive a convertible
I had accomplished all that I wanted so far. Granted my marriage didn’t last and Tamia got to Grant Hill before I had a chance. I hadn’t had my kids yet. But all in all I was living the life that I wanted. I always knew I would move to LA. I always knew I was going to have a great life. When I was in my birthday slump I decided I was going to spend August 6th by myself at the spa and go home and meditate and have a birthday cupcake by myself. My girlfriend was not having that shit. She texted me the day before my birthday:
Girlfriend: When are you coming home and what are we doing for your bday?
Me: Probably nothing. I’m not feeling this bday at all!
Girlfriend: SMH. Well forget about it. Something is in the works. Have yourself together tomorrow at 7:45. You can’t refuse so just deal with it and shut up!
Me: LOL! Okay party planner.
Girlfriend: It will be fun. It’s all been worked out. Whatever you’re sad about just know that a lot of people love and care about you and can’t wait to see your ass Tuesday night!
The next day came… August 6th. My 36th birthday. I got out of bed and I felt slightly rejuvenated. It was a brand new day, the sun was shining. I headed over to Fig and Olive and had a great birthday lunch then I spent the next few hours at the spa. By the time my girlfriend picked me up that evening at 8 pm. I was feeling really good. I felt at peace and relaxed. When I walked into the back room of Xen Lounge and saw the smiling faces of my close girlfriends. I smiled. I felt such an overwhelming amount of love. There in front of me were my closest friends from college all the way to my recent sisters that I bounded with and they were all there to celebrate with me. I was beyond happy and felt an overwhelming sense of love. As I blew out my birthday candle I thought about those three teenage girls I met in Martha’s Vineyard. They probably have no idea how much they touched my life. I thought about them and I made my wish. I wished that when they turned 36 they would feel the same amount of love I felt in that room. I prayed that they would evolve into great young women and would learn some of the lessons I learned in the last few years earlier and not the hard way. But most of all I wished that they would never lose their sense of adventure and hopefulness. I also thanked God that he brought those three angles into my life at that time. It is so easy to forget about how far you’ve come when you are so focused on where you want to go and why you haven’t gotten there on your time. As I begin this next year of my life I am finally going to learn how to enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the end result. When I opened my eyes I was confident that all of my wishes were going to come true. I am 36, four years away from 40 and absolutely fabulous!