Northern Intelligence

At Least There’ll be Cake

Well, I tried to ignore it. Pushed it to the back of my head. Pretended it wouldn’t happen. Pretty much lived with the whole “denial” thing. But the clock’s run out and I can’t avoid it any longer.

I’m about to turn thirty.

And I am not handling it well.

I have never handled my birthday well. Maybe it’s because when I was younger, my parties used to always be canceled due to snow storms. Or because when I got older, its proximity to Valentine’s Day always made me realize, “Great; I’m getting older AND I’m single.” Or maybe it’s because people close to me think it’s funny to “Birthday Ambush” me. (A lot of you are probably familiar with this? When your family and friends lure you to a restaurant and then sic the wait staff on you? Yeah, I’m not a fan of that practice. Should any of my friends decide that it’s time to go our separate ways, having the staff at East Side Mario’s ambush me with a birthday cake is the best way to ensure I stop texting you.)

Sidebar: There’s actually a funny story of the time my friend, Michelle, took me to a restaurant for my birthday and had me ambushed. The waitress came out with a cake, a birthday hat and a camera, and told me she was going to take a picture as a present. Of course, I was like, “Not necessary; Just give me the cake,” but she got really pushy and insisted on a picture. Then she tried to get me to wear the hat. So there’s a photo out there of me holding the hat in my hand and scowling at the camera. (Best. Birthday. Picture. Ever.)

It doesn’t feel like I should be turning thirty years old. It just feels like my maturity level should match my physical age. I mean, surely a thirty year old woman would not be watching “Jem and the Holograms” re-runs. Or have a panda as her cell phone case. (And the panda has its own song and dance.) Maybe it’s because I don’t have any children, or because I never really got over my love of the CW Network programming, but I can’t help but feel there’s a little arrested development going on here.

And I’m not handling the aging process very well. It seems like every time I look in the mirror, there’s another part of my face that’s yielded to gravity. What is it with those droopy little bits over my lips now? And when did my face decide it was acceptable to start growing crow’s feet?! Suddenly, I’m Jules Cobbs, poking and picking at my face in the Super Mirror, saying things like, “Botox isn’t, like, REAL poison, right?” As much I want to believe that age doesn’t matter, the media promotes an unrealistic image of beauty, it’s what’s on the inside that counts (blah blah blah), the truth is, getting older sucks.

I know I’m too young to have a midlife crisis, but is there anything to be said about having an End-Of-Twenties crisis? I mean, I BOUGHT WRINKLE CREAM, PEOPLE!

Most years, I don’t even celebrate my birthday. Since it’s only a week before Valentine’s Day, we usually go out to celebrate then, leaving me free, on my actual birthday, to wander the house (dressed all in black) and sigh to my husband, “Oh to be young again…” (Though not really, because I was kind of a pretentious idiot when I was younger. There was a lot of DRAMATIC poetry, and I wouldn’t wish that on my husband, even if it did mean I would get my sixteen-year old butt back.)

It’s not all bad, though. The new lines on my face are from all the years of laughter. The few extra pounds I carry are from lazy nights spent on the couch with my loving husband and dogs. (Plus it helps keep me warm in my current city.) If there is any grey hair underneath the hair dye, it’s from all the challenges and difficulties that have made me stronger, and made me who I am. I’d like to think that the years have also made me wiser. (But whenever I say that, someone always reminds me of the time I went to work with my pants on backwards.)

Maybe I just need to start focusing on the positive. After all, if forty is the new twenty, thirty can’t be that bad, right? (As long as thirty isn’t the new “teenage-y” or anything like that. I mentioned the awful poetry, right?) Maybe thirty will be the year I find my groove. Meet new goals, take on new challenges, travel, all that jazz.

Or, at the very least, get rid of that Super Mirror.

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