Sunday, April 22, 2012

And Today I Became a Woman...

It's official...I am now 30 years old!  Yes I am admitting it.  I was told by many many women over the years that your last birthday party was your 29th and until your death you would claim to be 29.  Well, I am not claiming that. I am 30.'s out.  I am officially a woman.

Albeit a woman in a gnome hat with a grown friend in a gnome hat...

And last night, on the last night of my twenties, rather than shimmying into a teeny tiny little black dress and donning a pair of six inch heels (a.k.a. ankle breakers) and going out to an expensive night spot or taking off with the girls for a spa retreat in Ojai I spent the last night of my childhood (yes my childhood...and I will explain) in the backyard of the home I grew up in, the home my father grew up in, with my parents, my friends, extended family, pets and a whole slew of garden gnomes.  Yes, my parents threw me a garden gnome-themed party.  It came complete with pointy gnome hats for guests, gnome-inspired finger foods, toddlers in gnome hats chasing my dogs who also wore gnome hats (temporarily), balloons, lots and lots of balloons, and a psychedelic birthday cake and cupcakes with gnomes on them.  Oh and there was a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bobby Darren because everyone knows that is what gnomes listen to in their downtime.

Odie tolerated her hat for a while.

Gnome cupcakes...from the BFF Chas!

Now a funny thing happened as I was getting ready for the party that requires a little bit of backstory.  You see for months I have been thinking about wanting to look my best for my thirtieth birthday (since as we have established...I was long told that was the end of the years in which I would be attractive).  Anyhow, I totally fell prey to the stupid belief that there is anything about turning thirty a woman should be ashamed of and I started working out like crazy.  I signed up for CrossFit and Krav Maga and bought a wetsuit so I could swim laps in my frigid swimming pool.  I gave myself weekly facials and reduced my soda consumption by about 95%.  I even went to the world-famous Bravissimo store in Covent Garden in London to get properly fitted for a brazier by a professional for the first time in my life.  Oh and I also went and got my hair done...though somehow I ended up with the same exact hairstyle I have had since 9th grade. Anyway, I did all this because I guess I had built up this myth in my mind that when I woke up on the morning of my 30th birthday I would suddenly have to start apologizing for myself.  So as I was getting dressed for my party I decided I was falling prey to everything I hate and complain about in society with respect to women and aging.  Thus, I decided I needed to slap myself and snap out of it...just slap myself silly...metaphorically that is...rather than actually slapping the bejesus out of myself (which would be both very physically difficult and I am totally opposed to violence against women).  Instead, in an act of defiance against myself I took off my Spanx and my fancy bra and dress and wore my favorite old denim work shirt and jeans let me hair air dry and went out to my party. It actually felt really nice.

And as the night progressed I started thinking that for me...getting older isn't really that big of a negative.  I mean obviously getting older comes with certain aches and pains from a decrease in cellular turnover and that is never fun.  But for me, the slowing of my metabolism and speeding up of my biological clock aren't as dramatically awful as maybe they have been for others.  I had septic arthritis when I was three in my hips, had early onset puberty which took me out of commission once a month by early elementary school and a growth spurt that resulted in me looking in fifth grade pretty much the same way I do today.  I had awful stretch marks and cellulite by sixth grade, a bad back and migraines by senior year in high school and rotator cuff surgery by 24.  So while I am not trying to make aging sound like it's all roses or that I had any rougher of a time of it than anyone else I guess I am trying to say that aging doesn't work the same for everyone.  Some of us experience the pains of old age when we are children.  Some of us experience young love for the first time when we are in our nineties.  And when we complain about hitting age milestones and creaky joints and indigestion we should remember that while there is an obvious correlation between age and infirmity...not everyone gets the luxury of getting to complain about those little things with their friends.  Aging is the price we pay for living and thus aging really is a luxury.  Every second we get is a luxury.

I guess what has struck me in the last 24 hours is that the things which I really value the most in life and by which I measure the "success" of my life have to, have to, have to come with age.  I love "achieving" and "achieving" takes time.  I like "achieving" relationships and I think nowhere else is the value of time better showcased than in relationships.   I am proud of my degrees and my travels and my writing, don't get me wrong, but I am most proud of my relationships and proud to say that I have  friends that have stood by me through the decades...friends that baked me birthday cakes and indulged my stupid whims over the years and encouraged me to write and reminded me that they don't care how old or how young I am as long as I am myself with them.  The aspects of my life that make me feel good at night when I go to sleep are the memories I have of ridiculous road trips I have taken with friends or disastrous dinner parties that ended with burnt food or passing notes in class or hours spent in the coffee shop talking about mundane aspects of life that in the end result in a meaningful relationship...and that all takes time.

It also takes time to feel comfortable in your own skin.  My mom always made me promise her that I wouldn't even consider the idea of getting married or starting a family until I was 30.  She said that I wouldn't know myself until I had taken the time to explore the world and figure out my place in it and for me I needed until I was 30. When I was a teenager that made absolutely no sense to me all.  But now my mom seems like the wisest woman in the world.  So according to my mom's logic my childhood ended yesterday and today I became a woman.  The funny thing is...even at 30 I still feel like a kid...I'm just a kid who has figured out my place in the world.  Stay tuned to find out what that place is...