38. Which in truth is neither old nor young. True, it is one year closer to 40 but 40 is not the death knell it once used to be. Life expectancy now is around 96 so 40 isn't even middle aged. Honestly, I've never been one to lie about my age, probably because I neither look nor act my years but also because I just don't see the point of lying about it. Ahhh, the curse of laziness. As Judge Judy says, it's takes effort to remember the lies, so may as well tell the truth and save yourself the aggravation.
I recall being 16 and remarkably annoyed that I couldn't buy legally alcohol. Really this was a blessing as I was/am a mean drunk and alcohol then meant a bottle of luridly coloured 20/20. 30 seemed ancient, 40 close to death. And as the years passed, the feelings changed. All those little markers I set for myself altered. I'd have my degree by 24, be in a serious relationship by 28 and probably have a kid at 30 much like my mum. By 32 I'd be some kind of professional (What kind I do not know!) and my thirties would be a whirl of baby sick and pinot grigio.
At 37 I have none of the above. My degree just seemed like a waste of money making years. Relationships were doomed as I've had periods that have lasted longer than the men in my life. Babies... Hmmmm, not my bag. And professional? It could still happen but what defines professional anyway? I am professional at being sarcastic and lazy, that should count for something.
Somewhere along the way I stopped beating myself up for not doing what it was that I thought I should. I'll admit, I loathed my twenties. Partly because that was the decade where my circumstances changed, my mum became ill, I became her caregiver and life stopped being all about self gratification. But it was also the decade I got a mortgage, faced up to my personal Everest of debt and realised that loving someone else more than you loved yourself didn't mean they would love you back.
Yeah, I cried a lot during my twenties.
At 30, I decided to pull myself together. Not because of the number but because you reach a point where self pity can only provide so much succor. Too many years feeling pissed off and badly done by. I should point out, it wasn't a bad decade, I got hit on more often than not and had my first (and only) marriage proposal. Drunkly delivered and blatantly a quest for a green card but still. I ate more pizza than anyone should ever eat. I got a Playstation. I had lots of laughs and I realised who my true friends were.
But my thirties.... At 31, I spent a blissful night sucking the face off of a 21 year old who thought I was just perfection. I cleared my debts. I was made redundant. I successfully changed careers. I got a tattoo. I rediscovered my love of writing and realised that maybe I was okay at it. I met a different crowd of people, older, more family based, and realised that they didn't care about my shoes or my interests, they either liked me for me or didn't. And if they didn't I didn't really mind * I made sure they loved me... I am a total people pleaser :)
Turns out, you change as you get older. Sleep is much more of a luxurious commodity. BBC2 is not the devil. Watching documentaries and foreign films will not make you an outcast. So much changed. I became adventurous in the kitchen and now the commonplace ready meals and takeaways of yesteryear are a distant memory as I know I can make it better myself. I buy fruit (which I don't eat but still!) I read even more now, a perfect afternoon is one spent relaxing in my bucket chair with a mug of tea and a book. I will happily spend an afternoon roaming art galleries perusing the Masters and never once feel like I've missed out, given half the chance.
I'm still silly, I still chat bucketloads of guff and belch and behave like the teenager I didn't have the balls to be back then. My social life is essentially split between the Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Fake or Fortune? and I love it. I no longer feel like I have to pretend to be fun, because I'm not. I entertain myself greatly but I don't really care than most people find me boring. I adore elasticated waists and onesies, a bubble bath is the epitome of pleasure and staying in is my new going out.
Every year of my thirties has brought me closer to me, given me a greater insight into who I am and what I want. I wear what I like and hardly ever wish I was thinner or taller. Somedays I wear make up, somedays not because frankly, this is what I really look like and who has the time. I say what I want now, rarely embarrassed to and always with the knowledge that I can excuse myself if I do cross the line. I know more, my vocabulary has broadened, my knowledge base is wider and as years pass I feel less and less like the weirdo I once considered myself to be.
So yes, 38. If my past is anything to go by, this should be a vintage year, each one building exponentially on the last. Still no babies, no green card marriage, no degree but really... is that important? I'm growing in confidence and have the money to keep myself knee deep in cats and onesies. The friends I have are golden, diverse and often distant in proximity but always there if I need them. I can buy wine and cigarettes when I please. If I want to eat filet mignon I can and equally, a Burger King Rodeo Burger is a fine choice. I may not have the physical freedom I once thought important but I can say and do as I please, anyone finding it a hard pill to swallow needs to suck it up as I no longer feel the need to constantly apologise for myself.
Not that there is anything wrong with being young and full of beans but I was just never that sort of person. I'm more of an ever evolving case, moving closer and closer to me.
But heck, when I get ID'd for wine and it still happens more often than not, I positively float home!