I remember pouring over those stupid catalogs when I was little, the ones that sold t-shirts and balloons that can be PERSONALIZED! ("customized" wasn't a big word then) to announce that [your name here] is over the hill! I distinctly remember a series of products that said, "Lordy, Lordy, Edward's 40." (For the record, I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but that? That will be lodged in my brain forever. Awesome.)
Anyway, it's tough. I can't speak for Ish. I don't know what he's feeling exactly because I am not in his shoes. But I do know he's not feeling very excited. He is not throwing any parties with PERSONALIZED! balloons. He is not whooping it up and shouting from rooftops the way his, uh, girlfriend might. He didn't even take a day off -- in fact, he got up early to go to the gym before work.
And of course, I have to let him have his time and his space and his celebration however he wants it. Or doesn't want it. It's his to choose.
But I do get to say a few things here, from my perspective, as me. Because today, my boyfriend -- my friend, my partner, my laughing buddy, my lover, my love -- turns 40. And I think that's pretty fantastic.
It isn't easy starting over. I'm not sure that he thinks of it that way, but that's pretty much what Ish did. He took the safe, warm, comfortable life he was living and he rattled his cage. (Rattled it but good.) The result was painful and scary and lonely.
But I don't know the half of it. It wasn't just the gut-wrenching demise of his marriage, of course; it was all that came before and after. Things I don't know and can't know because they were his, and they were then.
We all have our thens.
I just know the now. The since. The Ish with battle wounds, who's learned a thing or two or twelve million.
And I really, really like him.
Speaking from my own experience, though, it is kind of bullshit.
It takes us a whole long time to live and learn and get to know our real selves. It's so unfair that we can't stop the aging process in the meanwhile.
If you're going to start over, if you're going to take what you've learned and apply it to the aftermath of whatever disaster it was that taught you damn near everything, you should get a reset button. Do over. Subtract that last year, please. Or five. Or you know what? Let's just do our twenties over again -- once more with feeling!
Because now you know better, and I get it. You want to take your battle-wounded self and stay in the body of a dashing 28-year-old forever.
I get, too, that Ish can't help but look back on all he's done and marvel, albeit with a dose of melancholia, at his life's ever-windy path. I know he's pretty happy with where he is now, but I also know he didn't see "here" coming. (Jesus, who ever does?)
I think Ish is trying to figure out how it's possible that he's done as much as he has, and still feel like he's just at the beginning. Age 40, sans reset button.
And I feel like shouting: Hey buddy, this IS just the beginning! This party is just! Getting! Started!
That's how I feel. That's what I believe.
We ventured out and traveled and got jobs and tried things on and lived and loved and hit a few (thousand) bumps in the road. And we picked ourselves up and brushed ourselves off and what do you know? Things (eventually) got better. And better. And there's no reason to think they won't keep winding and changing and uh, bettering.
Look. 40 isn't what it used to be.
40 is whatever you want it to be.
Like a giant, wonderful stepping-off point.
Ish can take all that he's learned and all that he is and walk comfortably into the next phase of his life, ready to take it on. He is a genuinely good, genuinely whole human being. (Who, by the way, could give any dashing 28-year-old a run for his money.)
I don't doubt that his next 40 years will be amazing.
40? Totally PWND! by you.