If you’re lucky enough.
At the time of writing, I have just about 10 million seconds left in my thirties. I believe this gives me a fair vantage point to assess the situation.
Yes, things are cracking. Not just your bones, mind you. Out of the corner of your eye, you can almost see the Grand Canyon — deep valleys fanning out towards your temples. Those are all earned, mind you. They are badges of laughter and sunsets spent in good company. You spend more on skin care than you did on drinks in your twenties. Priorities do change. Your lotions are all anti-something.
Friendships are fewer, and sharper, and clearer. They need intentional tending, like a garden. Making new ones is a real pain because by now you’ve accepted that you don’t like most people — or to phrase it another way, you have high admission standards, like Yale. But because your instincts are well-seasoned and your crazy-radar is finely tuned, new friends become beautiful additions to the garden that bring you joy and help sustain your sanity.
Real shit has hit the fan now more times than you can count and you have learned that you do come out of it stronger. You know full well who would be there next time and who wouldn’t. More often than not, you are now the responsible adult in the room picking up the pieces. Even if you try, you can no longer remember the first time a cashier called you “ma’am”. It no longer startles you.
You have opinions about car washes and banking apps and know what an endocrinologist is. You could wax poetic, with a straight face, about the life changing power of a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
The bands you crushed on in your teens now play in the Alternative Classics station, I mean playlist. And those guys are somehow not in their late twenties anymore. Jarvis Cocker will turn sixty next year.
You are smart with your time and spend it more wisely. A sizable portion of it is spent in what is now known as loungewear and/or athleisure. You are also smarter with money. And with what you eat. And with relationships. In general, you are one smart badass who could teach your wrinkle-free younger self a thing or two and save her some heartache. But then again, you had to learn it all for yourself.
Two blinks and two lifetimes ago, leading up to her own fortieth, my mom coined the phrase that has stayed with me for so long — cuarenta años los cumple cualquiera, which roughly translates to ‘anyone can turn forty, no big deal’. We were sitting at my aunt’s kitchen table, surrounded by family, and everyone thought it was hilarious. It became a classic thread of family lore, deployed every time one of her many younger siblings or their spouses approached that milestone.
At the time I thought it was just a silly thing to say. But from this vantage point, a few months away from forty, I can finally see what she meant.
Bring it on, cuarenta.