Today is my birthday and my sister posted this photo of the two of us:
I feel like it deserves explanation. It was my wedding, obviously. We were young. So, so young. I was 24. Tracy had just turned 22. My dress had a long train that was bustled with what seemed like a bazillion little tiny hooks. This was later in the evening. Tracy had some drinks and was trying to refasten my bustle. My mother was trying to take a picture. She was saying “Tracy, look up. Tracy, look up. Tracy, look up.” She was hoping to get a sweet photo of my sister fastening my bustle and smiling lovingly into the lens of the camera.
Instead, she got this. Which is, I’m pretty certain, the most epic wedding photo in the history of wedding photos. I’m also certain that had Tracy looked up and smiled sweetly *that* photo would have been lost to the dustbin of history.
To this day Tracy has this photo framed in her house.
Last week Pamela Druckerman had a column titled How to Survive Your 40s. I like Druckerman. In fact, one of my favorite columns was a similar topic titled, What you learn in your 40s. But while the latter column mostly celebrated 40something, the former was much more of a lament.
I’m going to turn 47 next Wednesday. I have absolutely loved this stage of my life. When I turned 43 I remember thinking “This is the age I was born to be. I’ve just been waiting 43 years to get here.”
I’m not immune to bouts of vanity — my hair, which is nearly all gray underneath the dye I used to beat it into submission, is a perpetual torture for me. But I have not loved aspects of my appearance throughout my life, so this isn’t unique about 40s. And on balance I feel like the advantages of 40 far outweigh the disadvantages.
I’m more comfortable in my body than ever before. Yeah, sure, there are things that hurt that never used to. But I’ve never felt more comfortable with my physical being.
I more comfortable with my overall being, too. Self-awareness is never perfect, but I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am, what I’m good at, what I’m not good at, even what I like and what I don’t. And I’m more comfortable with who I really am, as opposed to who I think I’m supposed to be.
For me, 45 is greater than 25 by a factor of far more than 20. As I near 50 I’m not filled with dread. In fact, I’m excited. If 50 is even better — and I have good reason to expect it will be — I feel like I have so much to look forward to.