Hello. It's Me.
In a week, I turn 41. I could say that I'm fine with being my age, and on most counts, I'd be telling the truth. But, there are some parts of being "middle aged" that I sincerely wish were different. Ear hair is one but, mainly, it's that I'm single. (By the way, I just zoomed the view in my browser so that I could see what I'm typing.)
I've been in relationships my entire adult life, and have suddenly found myself single for a year in the gay, urban jungle. I think it's probably true of the straight world as well, but 40 is a weird age to be single. Once you pull together the small group of 40-something singles in your area and give them an inspection, you realize that 1) not everyone has taken very good care of themselves and 2) those who have are looking for something else, usually something born the same year you graduated college and 3) some of them want you to be part of a harem, which they run out of an opulent studio apartment in Bushwick. And by opulent, I mean that there's running water.
So where do you find your place as a single 41-year-old who will never grow up in spirit, but who has grown into their own skin and wants someone to love? The real answer is, "Why do you need to find a place in the first place? You're right here." And, I guess that's what my 40th year taught me--that I'm going to be just fine. That I'm already fine. And that, on some fine night, a fine man will take me out for fine dining and we'll have a really fine time. It's just a matter of time. And I'm fine with it.
But yeah, if anyone is looking for a birthday present for me, I have the guy in mind.
So, what else have I learned? And what realizations and lessons am I going to take into 41? Don't answer, because I'm going to tell you right now.
My top 40:
1) I don't enjoy poetry. Oh, I try, believe me I do. I respect it, but I don't enjoy it. And respecting things, even when you don't enjoy them, is important.
2) Love really is the only thing that matters. I love to love. I love to see other people happy. But, it took me until I was 40 to realize that I deserved the same amount of love, from myself, and from anyone that I choose to be with. No exceptions. Don't take as long as I did to realize this.
3) When you think your life sucks, take the time to try to figure it all out because regardless, in a year, you're going to realize that you played a part in all the bullshit.
4) Setbacks are always gifts, if you don't get stuck in what feels like the unfairness of it all.
5) Where we are today is a creation of things we did earlier. So try to always be a positive force in the world.
6) Frozen grapes are really delicious. Yes, I just learned this at 40. So are frozen fruit snacks, but they're full of corn syrup. Delicious, delicious corn syrup.
7) If you ever feel like you are having to play detective with anyone in your life, run. Seriously, knees to chest, bitch.
8) On a related note, always trust your inner voice. It's the only real truth in the world.
9) Trust how people make you feel, rather than what they say. And make sure they're consistent.
10) Stop comparing yourself. To anyone. Comparison, not money, or religion, or anything else, is the real cause of evil in the world. When someone has something you don't, be happy for them, and go about creating your own happy world. Jealousy, resentment and self pity are the only things that arise from comparison.
11) When you have big calves, skinny jeans are difficult...yet, still possible.
12) Everyone has things they missed out on, regret having done, regret not having done or wish hadn't happened to them. Everyone. You're not special in this regard.
13) I have little interest in cheap beer or fake people - although I can tolerate both for short periods of time.
14) It's better to be alone than settle. But it's also important to recognize when a good thing is in front of you and snatch it.
15) Briefs over boxers.
16) When you can go for hours without thinking about yourself, you are closer to freedom. And much sexier.
17) Money and happiness are most definitely not the same thing. Money is common, happiness it not.
18) Laugh with people, not at them. If you can't be funny without it being at someone else's expense...then you're funny, but not clever.
19) I'd love to live three-quarters of the year in a hot shower, with a Summer home in bed. In between, I will lie on the beach or laugh.
20) If you find that you have to dumb yourself down for the people in your group to enjoy your company, you'll truly be dumb if you don't find a new group.
21) People come and go, and it fucking sucks. But it happens. Trust in the wisdom behind it all and let them, because the really important ones never leave.
22) Depending on your circumstances, you sometimes don't even care what your Chinese takeout is made from.
23) I'm spiritual and all, but I still hate doing the dishes.
24) There is a real beauty in sacrificing because of your commitment to something.
25) Equally beautiful is a commitment to wildly committing yourself to the excesses of self exploration.
26) If you can learn to have as much fun doing things alone as with someone else, then you have nothing in the world to be afraid of. I haven't mastered this one yet, but I know it's true.
27) Pay attention most to the feelings that burn holes in your chest - love and hate - and find out what is bringing them into your life. All the other emotions are just shades of these two.
28) Babysitting, dogsitting and helping people move are all a lot less fun than they sound. But be honored to be asked. Especially helping someone move - because they're basically saying, "I'm a filthy person with dust bunnies everywhere. I procrastinated for weeks on packing and am about to cry. And, I'm so desperate, I'm inviting you in."
29) When you're heartbroken, try to remember that it's because you have the capacity for deep love and be proud of that.
30) And on a related note, never stop being open to being heartbroken again.
31) Question what you believe, but if you believe it, stand by it. Otherwise, it's an idea.
32) And, let other people do the same damn thing in peace. We don't all have to believe the same things.
33) Three things that will always make me feel better are long drives, laying on the beach and good kisses.
34) Stop complaining. It does nothing for anyone.
35) Never change just because someone else wants you to. But, always be open to change.
36) Never fool yourself into thinking that, in a healthy relationship, good sex and good love aren't both necessary.
37) Realize that every judgement you make is simply inviting others to judge you.
38) When you work on improving your life, the right people really do simply appear.
39) Most of all, always be honest. Two people can't both get what they need when one of them is lying.
40) And, lastly, if someone repeatedly disrespects you, and continues to do so after repeated requests for them to stop, you have every right to smack them across the face like Scarlett O'Hara. But, it has to be like Scarlett O'Hara.