This Side of 40

Welp, I’m 40. That was pretty fast.

I’m still trying to decide what this feels like, if it feels like anything at all. I’m… busy? More confident, but at the same time less sure of myself? Does it have to have a certain feeling attached to it? I’m not so sure. Onward.

I usually try to sneak past my birthday – being the beginning week of January, the exhaustion of December is at peak, and mostly people need a rest from celebrating things. January is a time to catch our collective breath from the holidays, hitch up our belts, and look to the year ahead, rather than reflect on what has past.

And I like that – I like that my birthday is more of a focus on the What next? rather than a looking back. I crave that momentum, that acceleration rushing me forward. Pressing me back into my seat, like taking off from a stop light on my motorcycle, kicking up through the gears as fast as the bike will take it, hitting fourth and rolling the throttle wide open, until the vibrations of speed and mechanics makes the image in the rear-view mirrors blur, indistinguishable.

The rear-view hasn’t been something I’ve wanted to linger on much anyway, lately – each of us has had our lives forever changed by this pandemic in profound, unique, heartbreaking ways.

But the past year also brought some good with it – my dad’s neck surgery went well and he’s recovering, I started individual therapy for the first time (and it’s wonderful). Both of my kids are finally vaccinated. I took the fantasy setting that’s been simmering in my brain and started typing it into a novel, which is terrifying and exciting all on its own.

I’ve established boundaries that have bolstered my sense of self and worked hard to prioritize and honor my loved ones. Walked the dog a lot. Got better at cooking (it’s all about butter, apparently). Quit howling at the internet, mostly.

Watched in fascination as white hairs infiltrated my beard for the first time, where they’ve established a solid beachhead. Stepped in front of bullies at school board meetings who were threatening others with violence. Watched so many new babies arrive, and taught a few to stick their tongues out at me.

Forty’s alright, it seems. I’m writing, there’s still good music, and my kids are growing at an alarming rate. I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the people who love me.

There are still fights to be fought down the road. But that’s okay. On days like today, I don’t mind. Here’s hoping you can feel some acceleration this year.

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