Yesterday friends popped up at our house. First one, then four, then two. We ended up as a crowd of fifteen in our small flat, and spent a lovely afternoon drinking tea and coffee, and eating apple & rhubarb tart, cookies and pain perdu with homemade marmelades. For me, this is the perfect birthday celebration.
In the morning, my wife had trouble hiding that something was going on. She had even more trouble managing the “cat” side of my personality when I started meowing, sheepishly: “But there won’t be too many people, will there?”
On being 30
I remember freaking out. That was the end of an era. The end of my youth. The last warning shot before adulthood had been fired a year before. Long working days made me tired, tiny wrinkles lingered around the corner of my eyes after a good laugh, and fat chocolate brownies for tea time were being replaced with square-s (and there’s a strict limit to that -s) of dark chocolate.
On being 25
I remember being elated. That was the beginning of an era. The beginning of my significant youth. The Go! shot of the race to real adulthood. My first working days and the exhilaration of paying my rent, my food and leisures all by myself with a real job that was actually related to my academic background.
On being 20
I remember bragging. That was like being 15, only a better kind of 15. I could exhibit my legal adulthood at arm’s length as a repellent against judgmental people, and still happily be a poor judge of what was reasonable or not, adult-like or childish. I had all the legal paperwork under my command, and yet both wrinkles and squares of dark chocolate were still a decade away.
On being 15
My memories are not quite sepia, but the colors have definitely faded. I would only say that I could innocently wear goofy clothes in public without a hint of the shame that would stem from them years later, for me and for any poor chap or gal that had the misfortune to be 15 right in the middle of the 1990s.
On being 10
This is not me anymore. I see my 10-year-old self from the outside. I remember an agitated little girl who loved her cat more than herself and who loved nothing more than a new video game for her birthday. I remember she wanted to be a teacher later. I remember she had no clue she was gay. I remember she was a bit fat and had no clue that she would one day hike Scandinavia, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand and Alaska.
I’d like to step through the looking glass, lift her up in my arms with a grunt and a crack of a couple of my lower vertebrae, and tell her:
I find being 35 exceptionally cool. I have all the legal paperwork, my age is a natural repellent against most judgmental people, I learned to actually enjoy having squares of dark chocolate with my tea, and over the years I taught myself exactly how to laugh to shape every new wrinkle into a sexy wrinkle.
Can’t wait to know what being 40 is like. Maybe I’ll be a kick-ass blogger by then. Maybe I’ll be a kick-ass mother. Maybe I’ll be a disgruntled spinster. But I’ll sure have kick-ass memories of being 35.
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