By Jennifer Caddell
I’m in the last year of my 30s. Yep. The big ‘three nine’. The age most people joke about, as in “Oh yes, I’ve been 39 for at least fifteen years!” Well, this is my first year being 39 and instead of looking at the forties as some sort of mid-life doom and gloom, I am looking back at who I was, and feeling grateful. I can’t help but sing like Maurice Chevalier in the 1958 movie version of ‘GiGi’ - “Oh I’m so glad, that I’m, not young, anymore!”
Now, when I stare at my laugh lines and think of when I was 24, I remember the angst I felt scraping the bottom of the financial barrel and wondering how I would ever pay for college; and for food. I was living with a guy at that time and the two of us managed to make rent, barely. I wore thick Coke bottle glasses and walked around with an air of worried anticipation because I still couldn’t see the future. There was the constant wondering if I was making the right decisions with my life and worrying that I would never get my life in order.
No, I don’t miss those days. Now I can look at that young woman, the one worrying about the small stuff, the one whose Coke bottle glasses were a bit too far sighted, I can look at her and smile. The smile is sad and grateful: Sad because all that young vigor was wasted on worrying, and grateful because now I know better. Myself at 24 was a leaf floating on an ocean and trying like mad to catch just the right breeze to take it in the right direction while all along, it was the deep current of life that was pushing me along, all I could do was stay afloat and do my best to navigate the waves.
And that current has taken me for quite a ride so far. There have been peaks and basins, stormy skies and clear blue waters. There are still times when I worry, especially over those things I cannot control, but more and more, with age, I worry less and simply appreciate the current of life I am floating on. I love that I write, I love that I garden, I love being a goofy wife and guiding mother, I love my earthy sense of humor and my wit. I am beginning to really appreciate who I am after 15 extra years of floating on this current and I am looking forward to giving less of a damn over the small stuff as life progresses. Instead of looking at birthdays as a year of aging further, I like to look at birthdays as a year of extra experience, and I survived it.
Don’t get me wrong: It wasn’t all bad 15 years ago. I actually took time out from worrying and managed make a decision that was one of the most important and wonderful decisions of my life. Remember that guy I was living with? Fifteen years ago, I stood with him in city hall and said, “I do.”