I have a birthday coming up. Like STAT. Like, a big birthday. Like, a “zero” birthday. It’s not my first milestone.
At 10, you leave the land of single digits.
13 makes you a teenager.
18, you can vote and go to jail and be tried as an adult.
21, you can drink legally.
25, you can rent a car—from certain car rental companies.
26, you can rent a car from all car rental companies.
At 30, you are allowed to have a “quarter-life crisis.”
At 35, you can run for president.
I’m not the first person to turn f…ffff…the age I’m turning. I won’t be the last. I just feel like the most dramatic. (It doesn’t help that, this week, Facebook is suggesting I “like” The Waltons and the Hubs is talking to me about supplemental insurance.) People say “40 is the new 20,” but that’s a lie. Have you been around people in their twenties? They are adorable and can subsist on sushi and Red Bull.
But what has really gotten to me this birthday—even more than turning over the speedometer—is how to celebrate it. I’m at a total loss. Ten years ago, at my insistence (and a few phone calls to friends), Hubs planned the best party: A photo scavenger hunt. Everyone broke out into teams and, over the course of 90 minutes (and without bail money), took Polaroids (which were like Instagram, except you fanned it back and forth really quickly) of things on a list that included:
The team with the most points got a prize and everyone came back with a great story. This party was so fun, some people came away scarred for life (Wearing your birthday suit = 3 pts.) So naturally there was pressure to make 40 even better. But, not wanting to burden Hubs like I did back then, I took on all the planning of my party. And failed.
I am not a party planner. I’m not even a planner. Both my wedding (we eloped) and the reception we held six weeks later were totally and fortunately out of my hands. Time was running out and looking for “40th Birthday Party” inspiration on Pinterest brought up pictures of women all dressed in capri pants, sitting around on lawn chairs, sipping chardonnay, and taking home darling gift baskets. It seemed so quaint, so lovely, so fucking boring. (And there was no way in hell I was donning the “It’s my 40th Birthday Beyotches!” t-shirt that popped up.) Is this what awaits us at 40? I mean, I once sneaked backstage to meet Pete Townshend*, fer cryin’ out loud! I don’t do capri pants!!
Thankfully, my friend talked me off the ledge when she shared that, for her “zero” birthday two weeks ago, she went scuba diving with sharks and manta rays at the Georgia Aquarium. It was affirmation that, yes, there is more to mid-life than “charming” get-togethers and boxed wine.
It’s not like I’m doing nothing for my birthday, which falls on a Sunday. Hubs said he’d take me out for dinner the night before and brunch the day of—probably with the hope to be home in time for the second football game. And I’ll hang out with some friends. Then I’m heading out to California to spend a week with my BFF who was there for my milestone 18th birthday party. With the itinerary she’s planned, I could win all the photo-scavenger hunts.
So, after much consideration and handwringing, I postponed any party—who says I have to celebrate on my birthday? No idea of what to do yet, but I’m thinking it’ll involve someone dressed in drag. (The Beast?) And I probably better put some feelers out there. What fun stuff have you done for a milestone birthday?
[*For you youngins’, Pete Townshend is the guitarist of a rock-n-roll band call The Who. And rock-n-roll was a…ah, nevermind. And get off my lawn!]