Guest Post: Forty
(On a three-child-induced career sabbatical, Libby spends her time sewing lavish Halloween costumes, reading, and volunteering on the board of her daughter’s cooperative preschool. She lives near Boston.)
I got a pedicure today. This is actually a pretty big deal, because my husband gave me a $120 gift certificate two years ago for my birthday with the idea that I’d get a manicure a month for a year. I’d used it exactly twice before today. Life, you know?
But we had a friend come for lunch today, and she’s pregnant, and since she’s someone we knew from Pittsburgh and we haven’t seen each other for five years, I thought, “Hey, let’s go get pedicures!” Totally on a whim.
It was fun. We chatted and caught each other up on things and talked about who was living where, and why, and I now have kind-of-iridescent green toenails. And while we were waiting for our toes to dry we got neck and shoulder massages from the ladies at the salon, which they do extremely well.
What wasn’t fun, though, is that the woman massaging my neck and shoulders and head (ooooooooh, it felt good) started fishing around in my hair and then yanked out a piece of hair. And handed it to me. And then she went after another one.
They were both grey, of course. Grey and curly, so they kind of floated around my head and wouldn’t obey a brush. I think she figured she was doing me a favor by plucking those unsightly bright silver crazy hairs out of my straight dark brown bob. But I’m kind of annoyed by it.
I’m turning forty this summer. FORTY. Instead of dreading it and having a midlife crisis and needing to buy a flashy fast red car (been there, done that) or have plastic surgery (please. I’ve had enough surgeries and can’t imagine why anyone would do it on purpose) I’m actually looking forward to it.
Why? It isn’t because I think I’ve figured everything out or because I’m glad to put those pesky thirties behind me. I don’t have much of anything figured out, and I’ve had a grand time in my thirties (if you take out the three c-sections and all fights with my husband). It’s because I really, really like how forty looks.
It’s true. I want to be a crone someday. I want to be the lady who can say pretty much anything in Relief Society and get away with it. I want to be able to tell younger women, “When I was your age…” and recite a litany of archaic injustices that they’ve never heard of. I want people to say, “She’s aged well,” because I’ve actually aged. I want to be one of the old-timers at the Exponent II and Midwest Pilgrims retreats who has been through the polygamy debate, and has had her years of outrage at the state of women’s rights in the church, and has fought with a couple of bishops about what will and won’t be taught in Young Women and Primary, and pretty much has her stance on life figured out. Not her whole Life-with-a-capital-L (what fun would that be?). But I’d love to have a set of thoughtful, well-worn responses to the stupidity that masquerades as politics and tradition in this world. I want to perfect the raised-eyebrow thing that my mother does, the one that stops fourth graders and unpleasant neighbors in their tracks. I figure forty is a good step toward cronedom.
Of course, this involves grey hair. And progressive lenses in my glasses. I’m hoping to get those next month, as a kind of pre-birthday present. (Also, my close-up vision is so bad right now that I have got to do something about it.) It also demands shawls, and very comfortable, very well-made shoes. I fell in love with spectator pumps when I was about fifteen, and I’ve been waiting for years to be old enough to buy a pair and wear them non-ironically. I think forty is the magic number there. And wrinkles! I love looking in the mirror and seeing my mother’s and my grandmother’s faces developing there, the sarcasm lines around the mouth and the lined forehead from raising one eyebrow. It’s a really cool face.
Forty is the age when you can wear clothes from the back of your closet that are back in style. Forty is when you can take your lawn chair to concerts in the park and sing along with the oldies band (because they’re singing songs by U2), and take your twenty-something friends for pedicures, and announce to the whole world without saying a word that you aren’t going to dye your hair until a really fantastic shade of old-lady blue comes along. This going to be such a good year.
What do you love about getting old?