Dear Forty

Dear Forty:

Let’s face it. You’re pretty widely thought of as an asshole. Still, despite all evidence to the contrary, I thought we’d get along. It’s only now that I see the folly of that thinking.

Shall we review?

photo by elitatt
photo by elitatt

To celebrate your entry into my life, I went to France. I finally got to see a place I’ve been wanting to see for more than two decades, and I spent what turned out to be a lovely week in Paris. That doesn’t sound bad, I’ll grant you that. What I’ve left out of that brief overview, however, is the fact that on my actual birthday I caught a nasty cold that left me with a fever for a few days and a horrendous hacking cough for far longer. That was, I suppose, your gift to me. Your bonus gift was the muscle spasms in my back that started a few days into the trip and continued for the next month.

Really, you shouldn’t have.

Fast-forward to May, when I was unceremoniously let go from a job I loved, a job I’d had for more than six years. We can drag that into June, too, when I found out the site into which I’d poured myself for those six-plus years would no longer be mine, and the community I’d built up around it would need to be rebuilt from scratch.

December delivered the biggest single blow to my world when my tiny, non-descript hometown became front-page news for all the wrong reasons, and I cried for weeks.

As I write this, I’m closing in on your sibling, Forty-One, and I’m sitting here with another bout of serious back pain that’s been bothering me since mid-January. In the last several weeks, my record for consecutive pain-free days is three. Oh, we can’t forget the chronic insomnia you seem to have unexpectedly brought along in your suitcase. Surprise!

Sure, Forty, you gave me some great moments this year, too. After I lost my job, there were all those friends and colleagues who rallied around me, giving me much-needed confidence and even actual paying work. I watched one of my best friends in the world get married. I’ve started singing again with my former bandmates, and I’m surprised at how much fun I’m having. When I feel the urge to speak my mind, you’ve made me care much less about “what people think.” I’m grateful for that, I really am. You’ve given me more gray hairs and additional inches around the middle, yes, but overall I have to thank you for remaining in the background enough that some people still don’t believe me when I tell them how many years I’ve been on the planet.

There were so many years leading up to when I knew I would meet you that I thought, “Y’know, I think I’m going to like Forty.” I really wanted to like you. I wanted this to be my Jubilee Year, like Miss E talked about. I wanted to embrace you, defy all the widely-held beliefs about you, and show the world that you could be really fucking fantastic. But you had other plans. You had a reputation to protect – and you did a fine job of that.

I’m hoping at some point I can look back on you and think, “Forty made me who I am today, and I’m so thankful for that.” At the moment, however, all that comes to mind is, “Forty, I’m glad to see the end of you.”

Now I’m bracing for the arrival of Forty-One. I wonder what she’s got in her suitcase?


2 comments on “Dear Forty

  1. Personally, I think you kicked 40’s ass. Just sayin. Looking forward to hearing you sing! I think we need an encore trip to South Africa with a karaoke bar scheduled in.

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