There it is, in big, unmistakable words. My age. Right out there for everyone to see.
The thing is, my age doesn't bother me. I wake up every morning thinking I'm still 26, and I'm still mistaken for a college student by the vast majority of people I encounter. I have to remind myself that I'm 39 most of the time. I have to admit however, that when a young 20 something guy approaches me with interest, I'm reminded that at this age I just don't have the energy to grow up another boyfriend. I'm no longer going to be "Girlfriend Yoda" for the young untrained "padawan learner boyfriends" out there.
"Bring flowers you must." Uh, nope.
Age doesn't bother me unless someone else tells me that I SHOULD be stressed about it. Like two years ago, when at the age of 37 I tried new doctor. After I told her I wasn't interested in birth control pills because I hadn't yet found one that didn't make me an emotional wreck, she said, "Uh huh, well, there is always sterilization."
I was stunned.
When I explained that I did actually want to have children someday, she Uh-huhed again and said, "Well, you should probably starting seriously thinking about that, because sooner rather than later, nature will close that window."
I've always been told that female doctors were better, but I left her office feeling only two emotions. One, certain that I was never going to go back, and Two, I was panicked that at any moment-- perhaps on that very walk to my car, I was going to feel my ovaries and uterus seize up like a rusted V8 engine and drop with a dusty clunk onto the pavement at my feet. "GAME OVER MISSY!!" It would wheeze with it's last breath (in Lewis Black's voice), "THAT WINDOW HAS CLOSED."
I spent the next few weeks in a Bridget Jones-esque state of constant and awkward self examination. If I was warm, I would think, "Is it warm outside or is this a hot flash??" Seriously. It's embarrassing to write, but it's true. Anything out of normal that could in anyway be ascribed to the next "life change" was analyzed and nit picked by me. I hid it, of course, from everyone around me because if I told them they might see the same symptoms and validate something that I didn't want validated.
Yes, at 37 years old, I was spending the better part of my day wondering if I was entering Menopause.
Even though I had no symptoms.
Even though everything was normal.
Even though I knew on some level that I was fine.
Thanks crazy, hippy, lady doctor. Thanks. You suck. I hope your uterus sounds like Lewis Black too.
It was a good thing I lived alone, because I would have driven someone else utterly insane.
It wasn't long before my rational self was able to regain control, but I've thought about it a lot since.
I was still in my twenties when Bridget Jones Diary came out. I related to Bridget on many levels. Not, I should say in the "wearing a see through top and fannying about with the press releases," kind of way, and I've never had a boss as good looking as Hugh Grant, but in other ways I sort of understood her. When a young intern in DC, I too consumed too much alcohol and had to go to work the next day hung-over and wearing my clothes from the previous day. More than once.
I've too have dreamed of a guy as perfect as her fictional Mark Darcy, saying to me that he likes me "Just as I am." Bonus points if he had a British Accent while pointing out my various shortcomings, including my verbal diarrhea and frequent use of the F bomb.
I've dated oodles of inappropriate men for reasons that were as inappropriate as they were. Do two negatives make a positive? No. I've done the research.
Come to think of it, I once dated a guy with a British accent for that reason alone. He had nothing else to recommend him. He was a bartender with a tattoo of Betty Boop on one arm, two pierced nipples, and the combined IQ of a donut and an ashtray. Inappropriate? You betcha. We lasted three whole weeks, when I had an epiphany whilst sitting on a keg in the basement of his bar that I wanted more out of life. Way more. I left without saying goodbye. He may have been the first that ended that way, but he certainly wasn't the last. Besides, back then at 28, I had so much time to find the right guy why waste a minute upon realizing this one, or that one, was the wrong guy?
So now I'm 39, and my most recent serious relationship, now over a year gone, collapsed under the weight of it's own wrongness. He was too young, too inexperienced and too uncertain of who he was to be of long term interest, but because I was 37 and that god awful doctor felt the need to point out my fading youth to me, I stayed with him far too long. The breakup was a relief, my only regret being that I no longer had someone with which to watch American Horror Story: Asylum. My imagination is too vivid to watch scary things alone, and I've yet to see the second half of that season.
Several years ago, I posted on Facebook that I couldn't decide if I should keep holding out for the man that would keep my interest by challenging my intellect, or if I should just settle for one that's close enough. A male friend responded, "Call me when you're ready to settle."
At 39, I've realized that I'll never settle, for anything.