I should really write this blog on my actual birthday but I’ll be in London being far too busy, so, in my usual tradition, I’m writing it in bed, after wine, and while my brain ticks over.
Vanity is a funny thing.
I’m pretty vain, all things considered. If I’m passing a reflective surface, I’ll always peer in. Always have done. Check the size, shape, general appearance. Give myself the nod. Looks are important to a girl. Any girl who says otherwise is a liar. Like it or not, we know it counts. We know its usefulness. Trust me.
And yet here I am – 40 on Wednesday, and not feeling a moment’s misery over it. Comes as quite a surprise to the 21 year old I once was, if I’m honest. I thought 40 would reduce me to tears – if not Botox. But no. As it turns out, I quite like the wrinkles I have. I feel I’ve earned them and most of them come from laughing so what’s not to like? If this is the half way mark then the second half has some keeping up to do. I quite like the idea of being 40. There’s a don’t-mess-with-me ness about it. I know who I am, what I want, and still feel like the world is my oyster.
I’m tipping the universe the wink and expecting it to deliver.
The thing is this – when I look at the life behind me I see adventures and happiness and heartache and insecurity, and when I look ahead, I see the same things. And that’s exactly how it should be. That’s what life – the future – is, after all. I hope I’ve learned from the past adventures. I hope I’m smarter than I was at 18. But in essence the future is as much a blank page as it ever was. Time in itself is immaterial. My best friend died at 24. You can’t trust time. You just have to make sure you live in it.
Right now, I feel more alive than I have in ages. I’m moving to London. A new decade and new beginnings. I have my family and great, great friends; my writery friends, my ‘The Keynes’ friends, my actory friends and all the ones in between. They’re probably far better friends to me than I deserve.
My career? Well, that, as with all things creative will always bring ‘the Fear’ with it. But ‘the Fear’ makes us feel alive, and it just takes one good deal or one promise of a ‘maybe’ to make you buzz for days, and if that isn’t being alive then what is?
I might not have a lover, but I feel well-loved, and you can’t beat that, can you? Lovers come and go – there are always men – but people who really love you are rare. And I’m lucky to have a few. They see through the arrogance and the pride and the toughness. They help me when I’m down. They know that I’m always full of self-doubt, and afraid and just want to hide from the world. And they tell me to buck the fuck up and get out there and show the world what I can do. I love them right back for that.
That’s the kind of shit that comes with age. People get to know you. Really know you. They can separate the wheat from the chaff. Sitting here on the cusp of 40, I realise that I love a lot of people. Properly love them. And that’s a great feeling. When you’re young, you take your friends for granted. As you get older, you choose them more wisely, but you hold them close. I intend to keep mine. They make me feel alive.
I’m not going to tell you anything special about 40. There isn’t anything special about it. It’s just a number. I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 25 and maybe that’s the only secret. There are no answers in growing up. There are only more adventures. More adventures that YOU choose, because you know yourself better.
I’m a little sad that maybe there won’t be any babies, but at the same time, I know that when one door closes another opens, and there will be other doors open for me and who knows what adventures will be behind them?
On reflection, I was never that conventional anyway. I think life always wanted different things for me.
So come on forty, you look foxy enough for me. Let’s crack on, shall we?
March 26th, 2012 at 10:21 pm
Wonderful post. Absolutely so!
From another who is nearly forty and fucking alive for it…
March 26th, 2012 at 10:35 pm
HA HAH, You’re Old! (Sounds like Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons)
March 26th, 2012 at 10:37 pm
Brilliant, and lovely, thankyou for this post, you’re a star, I’m hitting mid-30s-ish and this made me think – though my wrinkles have less laughter causes.
March 26th, 2012 at 10:40 pm
Great post, youngster 🙂 Forty ? I can barely remember back that far. I just keep drinking the wine, reading the books and not giving a damn. Big Irish ((HUGS)) for your birthday. 🙂 Bren
March 26th, 2012 at 10:42 pm
Happy Birthday, beautiful. The forties are a wonderful time, for all the reasons you pointed out. I just turned 41 in Feb and I must say, that day I realized that I’ve never felt sexier. I guess it’s because I’ve finally fallen in love with life. Thanks for sharing.
March 27th, 2012 at 7:41 am
My forties have been some of my very best years; I’ve got a feeling yours are going to suit you, too.
April 19th, 2012 at 11:28 pm
Happy birthday!!!!And your comment “I might not have a lover, but I feel well-loved, and you can’t beat that, can you? Lovers come and go – there are always men – but people who really love you are rare. And I’m lucky to have a few. They see through the arrogance and the pride and the toughness.” Priceless…i’m 23 and scared of getting old as fuck…hope i feel as good as you when i hit your age!!!! Best article ever!!!!
May 17th, 2012 at 4:53 pm
I saw the tweet about a two book deal with Gollancz. I was jealous.
I decided to read your blog so that I could decide you weren’t worth it.
Bad move. You are, you obviously are.
I shall read your books and wish you every success.
May 17th, 2012 at 4:58 pm