When I was about twenty I had a friend who went to Glastonbury to celebrate his thirtieth birthday.
I remember at the time thinking it was the saddest thing ever. Imagine going to a music festival when you are THAT OLD.
Yesterday I turned 43.
‘How did it happen?’ I asked a friend.
‘You were born 43 years ago,’ came the response, which was impossible to argue with.
The night before I didn’t sleep much. I had one of those Scrooge nights where every thing I’d done wrong, every way I’ve f**ked up, came at got me at 3am.
I am 43 renting a small one bedroom flat with money getting low again. Why didn’t I use the book money towards a deposit to buy a place? Why am I so stupid with money?
Most of my friends are married and parents and have real houses with real gardens. They have mortgages and pensions and responsibilities.
At 43, I am only just beginning to feel ready to have a boyfriend.
Why am I so slow to grow up?
The children conversation has also come up a few times over the last few days with friends checking that I really don’t want them.
And I don’t. I love children and I have no active desire to have my own.
But the rate I’m maturing I’ll probably wake up at 60 and feel ready.
A few days ago I wasn’t feeling any of this. I love my flat and my neighbours and my street and I was telling a friend on the phone that things just ‘take the time they take’ when it came to love. I was telling her I wouldn’t change a thing.
And on good days I wouldn’t. On good days I love my charmed, fortunate, privileged, free life. But on other days I see everything through a different lens and I feel like a f**k up. These days tend to come with birthdays and hangovers and when the bank balance is getting low.
Today I am hungover. I had my family and a couple of friends over to the flat and I ordered takeaway pizza and bottles of fizz. Mum brought a cake which I’m now eating for breakfast.
It was a lovely day. My first call was from a school friend that I have now known of 39 years. 39. Imagine that. Then I had coffee with my sister in the local coffee shop. One of the brothers who runs it was in hospital with his wife who was having a baby. It’s overdue and every day for weeks people have been asking him: ‘Any news?’ Yesterday it looked like it was happening which means we’d share a birthday.
After coffee I cleaned the flat and had a FaceTime with my best friend and her son in Ireland. They had made a birthday banner and cake and we had a virtual party. Whatever I may not have done right I am blessed with friends… and a gazillion other things.
I’m pretty sure I’ll wake up tomorrow without the hangover and remember that. Things will feel right again. Birthdays are funny things.
A couple of weeks ago I heard Elizabeth Gilbert in conversation with Julia Cameron. She was talking about how life had not turned out how she had planned.
‘I’m coming to you as a 51 year old woman whose life does not look anything remotely like what I had planned when I was a 21 year old woman,’ she said.
‘I really had a pretty narrow view at that point about what a woman’s life should be and one woman’s life should look like. I am twice divorced. So obviously things didn’t go as planned. I consider myself to be a widow because the love of my life my partner and passed away two years ago, so I have a twice divorced bisexual widow with no children. Living by herself in a tiny, weird old church in a very rednecky part of New Jersey. Not at all what the plan was… but it’s so much better.
‘I have become everything that society teaches girls if you’re not careful, you might end up being this dreadful terrible thing. A middle aged woman living alone. And, and I have become that and I quite literally live in a state of glee.’
So I’m going to leave you now and eat a second slice of cake for breakfast and leave all the washing up till later because I can. I am a middle aged woman living alone, working on the glee…
Love to you all xx
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