This isn’t a reference to a U2 song. It isn’t the number of times I check my watch to see if it’s quitting time.
40 is that critical turning point, just waiting behind the stage curtains to embrace us all. One of my favorite lines in “When Harry Met Sally,” involves Meg Ryan’s character, Sally, bemoaning spinsterhood and the inevitable big 40.
Sally: I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men.
It isn’t the same for men. My husband is blissfully unaware of his age. It is not uncommon for him to ask his date of birth when filling out paperwork at the doctor’s office. I’m in my late 30s and I am trying to stretch it out as far as I can. It doesn’t look very promising.
If you are under the age of 35 and are wondering when the irreversible, face changing, body distorting aging process begins, I can confirm it begins at age 37. At least it has for me. I’ve come to terms with the grandiose dreams of my 20s, and have them safely tucked away in a manila envelope inside my closet. Perhaps I’ll take them out and dust them off when my daughters ask me who I was when I was 21.
Now I take comfort in the choices made, and am relieved the tumult of those years is over. But, the reassurances of those choices inevitably result in wear and tear. I wear its proof around my mid-section, my hair, my face and my psyche. It’s the aging process. And with fine point accuracy, I can tell you, it begins at 37.
40. When I reach this threshhold, I hope I am greeted with humor, grace and calm.
October 17, 2009
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.