In T minus a few days, in the middle of the middle of the night, I will be forty years old. I know it's just another day and I know it's just a number but it's still a thing. I won't g-o on a tirade about wrinkles (it's really the enduring acne that humbles me) or the softer parts of my body that don't seem to tone no matter how much exercise I don't do. It's not a crisis but it's not nothing. It is a thing. It's a lot of a thing.
I live in the house I grew up in. I am the mother of a teenager, growing ever more into her own. I live with and am continuing to build a future with a good man and mensch. Our rescued basset hound's lives are chronicled on and off the couch here.
When I turned 30, I had tentative plans to rent a bouncy house but I ended up getting divorced. Now at nearly 40 and having reached the professional goals I had never really expected to reach, I am re-evaluating how I want to be in the world. One way I want to do that is through vulnerability. So in the spirit of that, here are a few photos my daughter helped me pick out and some stories about them as part of assimilating my 40 years on the planet:
In 1985 I was 5 years old. My siblings and dad and I had just moved from Butte County and my bowl cut was blonde and shaggy. My grin was (and remains) lopsided and my teeth are tiny. The shirt I am wearing is yellow and though you can't tell by the photo, it is a Garfield shirt with a caption that reads: "Cats are just little people with fur and fangs." It was my favorite shirt. I wore it with my green corduroy pants. I used to be terribly ashamed of this photo because they called me "Jessie", I didn't have pig-tails and I thought everyone assumed I was a little boy. I love this photo now, though. I mean, what a cute little kid smiling in the sun. Bless that little girl.
In 1992 I was 12. In this photo, have long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail with a fluffy pink scrunchie. I am alone in the photo but there is a large group of us, visiting Japan in the first Mendocino to Miasa Sister-City Exchange program. I am wearing a Nature Conservancy t-shirt from my mom and I am drinking something (surely a Coke) from the unnamed fast-food chain (okay, it was McDonald's). You can't really tell from the photo but I have an unironic fanny pack on my waist which surely held my passport, some currency and definitely Burts Bees Lip Balm in a little metal tin. (One used to be able to travel internationally with such contraband.)
In 2019, I am 39 (this image is from last week.) I was at an off-leash dog-friendly beach with my two long dogs, listening to yet another My Favorite Murder podcast. I don't usually wear my hair down, preferring to wrap it tightly and twist the strays into coils fastened with bobby pins... but it's been giving me a headache to be that wound up all the time. Seems like a good time to let my hair down and bravely walk into my 40s with an open heart. And if you didn't click the link I attached to "bravely," I will introduce it again because it's the crux of the work I am interested in doing: Brene Brown: Listening to Shame.