There seems to have been a sudden surge of school reunions in my world of late. Well, I say a surge. Three to be precise, but that’s three more than there have been in any of the other years since the education system and I happily parted company. It dawned on me that perhaps this was due to the impending arrival of 40. The biggie. The really-properly-grown-up-no-kidding-yourself-anymore age.
Forty. It’s supposed to mean something, isn’t it? Like 30 was. Turns out, where some people lock themselves away and sob at that birthday, I actually liked turning thirty. A whole new exciting decade lay ahead and I was determined to make the most of it. Seeing 40 looming I feel the same way. A new decade means time for a shake up. In my 30s I started writing, I went through a whole career in teaching, and then became a full-time writer. I’m expecting MORE from myself in my 40s. A decade of confidence maybe. A return to the ‘fuck it, let’s just give it a go’ attitude of my 20s.
Last week I went to a reunion lunch at the House of Lords (hell yes, my school was THAT posh) and caught up with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. It was fun. We giggled. I drank wine. We giggled some more and reminisced and shared what we knew of other peoples life journeys since we’d snogged/shagged/smoked with them in the various nooks and crannies of The Edinburgh Academy. The years folded in on themselves. We were the same, but different.
A month ago I went to a reunion at my first boarding school and again caught up with people from half a lifetime ago and looked through their photo albums to times gone by. Again it was fun, but I found I didn’t feel that overwhelming sense of nostalgia that a lot of people had. I didn’t come away with any major desire to keep in touch or see the old place again. I didn’t even go through the routine of kidding myself that I would. That place and those people were the past. A different country. Done.
The excitement is in the future. The one thing that these trips into the past have made me realise is that I’m pretty happy with my life. I’m excited about the future. Sure, I’d like to lose a couple of pounds and get my house sold, but in the main, things are really good. I’m free from ties and work is taking me in different directions some of which keep me awake with ‘what if…’ style excitement. I get the feeling that change is just around the corner. And I’m a girl that loves change. I like that it scares me slightly. Sometimes a little fear is good.
When I was younger, I thought that ageing would really bother me. I thought I’d be reaching for the Botox or fillers and envying the next generation. I’m surprised and relieved that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Maybe that’s because I’ve done a lot in my time, had my adventures and am embarking on new ones. Getting older brings a confidence that youth, for all its bravery, just doesn’t have. And I’m thinking that 40 is going to be just fabulous. I’m using 39 to make sure that’s the case. Working hard, exercising, trying not to be ‘afraid’ of things any more. After all, life is short, and if you don’t learn to make the most of by the time you hit 40, you probably never will.
I read somewhere that the truly young are those that look forward and never back. I’m keeping that in mind. There’s nothing wrong with a quick sentimental reflection on times gone by, but if you spend more time living in those than you do planning for the future then buy yourself some slippers and be done with it.
We live in a world where we, especially women, are supposed to want to be twenty forever. Really?? My bottom may have been three inches higher then, but that was about all being twenty had going for it. Twenty was crap. Forty, however, forty is going to be just fine. I’m hoping that by then I’ll be living somewhere new and writing more stuff and dating fabulous men. I’m tired of people stressing about their upcoming birthdays. We need to start celebrating our ages, not panicking about them. We’re alive. The world is full of fun and wine and laughter. Enjoy it.
Remember, all those of you that worry about turning 30/40/50. The only alternative to getting older is being dead.
Here Endeth the Lesson/Rant/Hour of work avoidance/mildlyhungoverwaffle. (oh, and in book news The Traitor’s Gate (Silverwood) is out on Thursday, and The Shadow of the Soul will be reviewed in the Saturday Times this week.) x