My twenties were all about ticking boxes. University, tick. Job, tick. Engaged, tick. House, tick. Married, tick. Travel, tick. Tick, tick and tick. It wasn’t so much that I was driven or determined. I was simply free falling through the spirited days that were my twenties. It wasn’t even that I thought I was invincible or infallible. I just didn’t think. I went from one thing to the next devouring life. Drinking it all up till I was bursting at the seams.
I look back on those days and my heart swells. The university years. The ‘just got a job’ years. Even the years when we first moved into our house. Gosh it was good. The kind of good that comes from youth. That comes from brazen courage and a relentless sense of entitlement that life was there to be had.
The years were filled with gratitude and good friends. Memories made and moments that still now I feel linger in a time space dynamic that if I wished hard enough and closed my eyes, I could almost touch.
My twenties ended like a switch. It flicked over in a way I never expected. In a way I thought was only an old wives tale.
The switch was having a baby. I vividly remember waking up one day and that is all I wanted. And not so much wanted but had a primal need for. Baby. Baby. Baby.
My thirties were spent in a dense delirium of newborn sweetness and heavy headed fog that only comes from bearing children. Six weeks old AJ was, cradled in my arms on my thirtieth birthday. I won’t ever forget that night. We had a house full of people, there to celebrate my birthday and to coo and cluck over AJ.
I spent most of the night locked away in the spare room cradling AJ away from the noise. My sister and I took turns to stay with him, comfort him. I felt annoyed. Not so much that AJ was unsettled or bothered. But here I was for the first time facing a feeling I had never felt before. I wanted to be with my son. I wanted to be locked up in the quiet spare room, breast feeding and dozing off to sleep. I did not want to be out there with the party, being the hostess or the attention.
That night defined being thirty. Two years after AJ, PJ was born. My identity slipped further away from me, each time I looked into my children’s eyes. I no longer knew my reflection. My reflection was them.
If I stretch my hand far enough and stand on my tippy toes I can almost touch my forties. The invitations are not flooding in, but the trickle has become more constant. Glamourous and sophisticated soirées celebrating forty as the new thirty, or the new black, or the new chapter. I guess it is all the same.
There is no dense newborn delirium or brazen twenties courage, there seems to be more peace, more constant as this new decade ever so slowly dawns.
Perhaps the reflection is shifting. The haze simmering into a new found knowing. Somehow it feels like this next part, in all of it unknown, is going to be about me. Not that the twenties and thirties were not about me. But perhaps this next part is going to be about a me I have only ever caught small glimpses of.
Miss Forty, though our rendezvous is still a little while away, I have been thinking a lot about you lately. When that fateful day does come and we do meet, I think I will be ready to do this. May her words be brazen and her stories dense with life.
What has defined your twenties, thirties or forties?