So, today I turn 40. As a woman this should be a big deal. For me, it is an excuse to get people together for some drinks, and receive birthday wishes on Facebook. I like to think I am comfortable with my age, and where I am in my life. Some days, this is the case. Other days, I really feel my age. In fact, I’ve started to keep a list of the things that just scream “I’m getting older.”
Just before turning 39 in Bali, I started getting my hair colored again. Something I stopped doing when we started traveling three years ago. Since that time, my hair continues to sprout more grey hairs, and I am just not interested in allowing them to take over.
As a result of my last few dye jobs, my hair color has gotten increasingly lighter. I’m not a blonde, well, not quite. But, I think the lightening of my hair must have some connection to turning 40 and getting older. This probably goes hand in hand with the sudden appearance of gray hairs elsewhere on my body, or new hairs growing in places I’ve never had hairs before. This is the one part of getting older that I am totally not okay with. I’ve decided to combat this part of getting older with going blonde.
Grapefruit and Getting Older
I’m drinking grapefruit juice. When I was young I looked at my grandmother and she was always carving up a grapefruit. I remember specifically how she would cut it, and sprinkle it with sugar. When I tried grapefruit I thought it was the most bitter fruit known to man. It might still be, but as I get older, and as my palette matures, I am finding myself choosing the grapefruit juice when we eat breakfast at a hotel. We’ve even started buying pomelos, and occasionally grapefruit, from the local markets. Where I once thought grapefruit was the domain of grandmothers, I’ve now embraced it. I like grapefruits.
I’m napping a lot more. I’ve always been a napper, and would prefer to spend a good chunk of every day horizontal, perhaps with a little drool escaping the corner of my lips. It’s one of the reasons I had to quit being a lawyer. There was simply not enough time in the day to nap.
Now, though, my naps have become epic, long affairs. Eric started to refer to me as the Queen of the Nappers. I’m embracing my title and wearing my crown proudly.
This American Life
I’m listening to public radio. I used to hate AM radio. My stepfather would always play some news show or sports show on the car radio and I hated it. I hated the crackling sound, the absence of music, the constant talk, talk, talk. Before leaving the US, my friends and colleagues would always ask me if I listened to some specific program on NPR that I had never heard of. I didn’t even know how to find NPR on the radio.
Now, I have become addicted to podcasts, including listening to programs produced by This American Life. Isn’t that a public radio thing? Isn’t that like stuff on NPR? What happened? I’m getting older.
Wearing Comfortable Shoes
I’m buying shoes in a new way. Not that I was ever a shoe addict, but I had a good amount of shoes when I still had a career. I often bought super uncomfortable shoes that I would wear a handful of times. Or, I would wear them to meetings at work and then kick them off under my desk so I could sit barefoot. Now, I have to be a lot more practical about my shoe collection. They need to be comfortable, lightweight, and versatile.
I knew I had reached a new low on the fashion front, though, when I found myself buying shoes at an orthopedic shop in Lisbon. Granted they were sequined ballet slippers that I can wear to dress up. And they fold up nicely in my bag. But, they are manufactured by Dr. Scholls. Seriously? I might as well be shopping for a replacement hip.
My everyday shoes are now Birkenstocks. That doesn’t help my young and hip image. I don’t care. They are just so darn comfortable.
They Don’t Make Movies Like They Used To
I have an increasingly low tolerance for violence in movies. This has been something that has been creeping up on me for quite some time. I know my grandmother and my mother-in-law have had an issue with the violence and cursing in movies for a long time. You know “they don’t make movies like they used to.”
I am often still up for a raunchy comedy, and thought Ted was hysterical, so I am not quite ready to toss in the towel and download every Gene Kelly movie ever made. But, I also tend to close my eyes (and sometimes my ears) when a scene of gratuitous violence graces our computer screen. This even goes so far as to cover a few bloody scenes from Grey’s Anatomy. I just can’t stomach it anymore. Next stop: senior citizen matinees and a refusal to watch any movie where the actors don’t break out in song and dance. Luckily, those are back in fashion.
Getting Older and Feeling Young At Heart
As much as I’ve been keeping track of the signs I am getting older, there are other ways in which I feel totally young…or at least younger. We consider ourselves semi-retired, a feat I accomplished when I was 37. I am living a life I enjoy, and one that enables me to nap at will, for lengthy period of times.
And, in the last year I’ve done a lot of cool stuff. I might not be bungee jumping off of bridges, and most of our adventures involve food and wine, but still in the year before turning 40 I’ve done enough interesting stuff to feel confident about heading into my 40’s.
In the last year, I’ve:
Learned about the history of Irish Coffee
Receive a behind the scenes tour of an historic Catalan bakery
Hung out with a goat in a kitchen
Understood the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland
Took in a Japanese baseball game
Got to taste the food at the best restaurant in the world
Slept in a luxury wine hotel
Learned how to make kimchi in Seoul
Hung out with the cutest buffaloes in Malaysia
Drank Aperol Spritz at a lingerie bar in Italy
Learned to cook beef rendang with a famous Malay chef
Dined on snake in Vietnam
Learned how to cook pho in Hanoi
Learned how to make okonomiyaki with some Japanese sisters in Osaka
I got a travel tattoo in Bangkok
Learned how to make a proper gin & tonic in Lisbon
And, I searched for the best Guinness in Limerick.
It wasn’t all fun. I analyzed our time living in Bali in one of my most popular posts ever. Eric lost his wedding ring in Indonesia. We just finished a mega trip through Europe and India, with a lot of work travel, that left me exhausted and feeling old indeed. But, we saw the Taj Mahal!
In the end, though, my mother-in-law’s advice rings true: Age is Only a Number!
It’s how you spend your days, months, and years that count, not how old you are. It’s how you feel more than what year is on your passport or drivers license. I’ve managed to have a pretty amazing year 39, and am excited to see what my 40’s bring. Here’s to getting older!