It is Sunday night, and as I write this Jimmy is in the girls' little room tucking them into their beds. I can hear him trying to soothe them past their unrelenting giggles and attempts at initiating tickle fights, not wanting to lie down much less have their blankets pulled up around them, Jimmy trying to keep his voice steady as the hour grows later and later (and we all grow older).
My birthday is tomorrow. I like my birthday, and Jimmy already spoiled me last night with one of the best nights out I believe we've ever had. No surprise, though, that I am not crazy about the idea of turning thirty-five. It feels like more of a milestone than maybe it should, but in my defense I will have to check the next box on medical forms and surveys, now, the one that says "Age: 35-44". Come on. What heartless killjoy came up with that grouping?
And thirty-five seems a bit unrelentingly "woman" to me, too, as though I can no longer pretend to the description of "girl" anymore. And maybe that's the silliest thing I've said so far, given that I've also been a married mother of two for nearly three years, and over thirty for five. Maybe you also think it shouldn't matter either way. But as much as I may ever be fully woman, I will also be fully girl, forever feeling seventeen, driving my parents' car to school with the windows down and the radio up, or lying awake in my twin bed at night with the lights out, window open again, watching the breeze flutter the curtains, the radio on, again, all the while my head stuffed full to overflowing of constant anticipation of what my life would be.
If I live to be a 108-year-old great-great-grandmother with any clearness still left in my brain, I believe I will still relate best to the teenaged girl dreaming of her future and obsessing over the boy who sits next to her in fifth period. And I may never feel more like myself than I do when I am alone somewhere with my music played loud and a fresh breeze on my face. Somewhere along the way those markers became indelibly stamped on my core like the address to my forever home, and they are the only sure path back to me when I find myself once again lost in the weeks and months of everydays.
I don't mind aging altogether. In fact, as I have noticed in recent photos of me, I can see changes in my face that place me squarely where I am - at thirty-five and going - and so far I rather like it. I look more settled, more sure, more here. I don't always feel those things, but I do aim for them, so I don't mind their appearance at least. In some ways it gives me confidence that I can achieve those qualities if I can picture them already in my possession. Aging's gift of reverse-psychology, maybe. Or delusion.
So I think I will be alright. I think the next five years could be very good. I still have plans. I still have dreams. I still wonder what my life will be. And I still see possibilities.