Tomorrow I turn 35. My overriding reaction to this news is ‘How on earth did that happen?’. I was 18 literally one minute ago.
I haven’t done everything that I planned to do by the time I was 35, well actually that’s not strictly true because I haven’t even written my ‘Things that I want to do by the time that I’m 35’ list. I’m not sure that I can do it retrospectively, isn’t that cheating? The bottom line is that I don’t know what I wanted to have achieved by the time I am 35, so how can I assess my progress? I’m going to have to start writing my f list instead. Easy tiger, that’s f for forty.
I remember my Nan once saying that she saw an old lady reflected in a shop window and she was shocked when she realised that it was her because she felt exactly she same as when she was a child. At the time, I couldn’t quite understand what she meant, but now I totally get it. I don’t understand why I don’t get asked for ID when I buy wine, my grey hairs and laughter lines (I’m sorry I just can’t use the word wrinkle, give me a break; it’s nearly my birthday) horrify me and as for the pencil test, forget it, I could carry a whole stationary cupboard around with me.
When my mum was my age, she had an 11 year old, a 9 year old and a three bedroom house. I have a 15 year old fish, 9 year old dust and half a flat.
I’m not a famous writer or a famous singer. I’m not the chief executive of a worthy but well paying (to their chief executive specifically) organisation and I’m about as entrepreneurial as a custard cream.
A few weeks ago, I drove my friend’s daughter into town. She is 18, an adult, like me. We were talking about everyday stuff, as adults do and we had a conversation that made me feel ancient which went rather like this:
Me: So, it’s the long summer break before Uni, what have you been up to?
Her: A friend and I have been to some great club nights, we’ve taken to going to *insert name of a club far too young and trendy for me to know and/or remember the name of* on a Thursday night. They do a 1920’s night. We’ve had dance lessons and stuff it’s great fun.
Me: Wow that does sounds fun. [Thinking: I could see if I could get some friends together and go along]. What time on a Thursday night?
Her: Oh it starts at about 10pm.
Me: Right [Thinking: Oh no. Too late. That’s bedtime. 10pm on a Thursday? How is that reasonable?].
Her: Yeah, it’s funny to think that the next decade that we enter will be the 20’s.
Me: Of course, yeah. That hadn’t even occurred to me.
Her: I think that they’ll be a resurgence of 1920’s fashions and events because of it.
Me: Oh yeah, of course. Mind you, it won’t take too long before we’re all sick of it. It will be like that song by Prince, 1999. It was played constantly throughout the year 1999 and leading up to New Years Eve for the millennium you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it, do you remember?
Her: [Looking at me blankly] “No, sorry. I was only 5 in the year 2000”.
How can someone who only turned five in the year 2000 be a grown up now? Seriously, how is that possible?
Later I relayed this story to Brad. Now, Brad is not known for his subtleness, which is a trait that I both adore and loath in him in equal measure. He once described me as ‘looking like one of those crazy women that you see in a mental hospital’ when I wore a floral dress, recounted the first meal that I ever cooked him as ‘dry as anything, horrible, I thought I was going to get food poisoning’ and has been known to refer to my hair as ‘looking very big today’. It’s a good job that he’s pretty.
After I told him about the conversation, without hesitation, Brad uttered these words “You know, you could have a daughter her age.”
But the award for the most ageist comment this week has to go to my four year niece when we had the following conversation:
Maddie: “Happy Birthday Auntie Jelly! We have a present for you, come and see, come and see.”
Me: “Ooh, how exciting, thank you darling, I’ll come and look in just a moment.”
Maddie: “Auntie Jelly, how old are you?”
Me: “I’m going to be thirty five”
Maddie: [Gasps and sits down on the floor] “Wow! That’s REALLY old.”
Me: “Thank you sweetheart, yes it is.”
Maddie: “Because I’m only four. You’re five, PLUS thirty.”
Me: [Secretly impressed with her numerical skills] “Yes, that’s right.”
Maddie: “Are you older than Mummy and Daddy?”
Me: “Yes I am.”
Maddie: “Wow” [Lays backwards on the floor as if overcome by my great age].
Next year, I’m just going to turn 29 again and be done with it.