Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Big 4-0

When I was a sophomore in college, my roommate and I stole a 4-foot-tall cardboard standee in the shape of an animated dust ball. It was an ad in the student union bookstore for some brand of vacuum cleaner, but we thought it would look much better in our dorm room, and it did.

I remember the night we stole that thing like it was last night. After my roommate and I worked the standee into our elegant dorm d├ęcor, I slipped out to catch up on a little assigned reading. There was a window seat opposite the dorm library where I liked to camp out, and as I got settled in, I had one of those reflective moments. You know, the ones where you freeze-frame your life for a second and make a concerted effort to take in everything and store it in your memory because some wise part of you knew that you’d want that little piece of your life to look back on someday. As I breathed it in -- the heavy, varnished mahogany walls, the whispers and muffled laughter from the library, the mixed scent of leftover pizza and old library books, -- I felt a little pang of fear go through me; fear that my life was zooming by and I had no control over how fast it was going. Fear that I was already a sophomore in college – college! – and that soon I would graduate and leave the football games, the 400 seat lecture halls, the line at the bookstore, my roommate, and our 4-foot-animated dust ball behind forever. I was afraid of getting old. Which I defined by being 22.

On July 7th, 2008, I turned 40.

I never thought it would happen. Not like I thought I’d die before I got here, but I just never considered that I’d actually be 40. Years. Old.

The Esposo threw me the most lavish, fabulous, thoughtful, generous and totally fun 5-day, multi-event birthday weekend anyone this side of Paris Hilton could ever hope for. So the transition was actually a blast. But it was sad too. After the festivities died down and my visiting friends and family flew back home, I was left to drive to work and contemplate just how far away I have traveled from that evening in the dorm.

But as I glanced in the rear view mirror to change lanes, I caught a glimpse of Peapod’s car seat, which was littered with cracker crumbs and a deflated yellow balloon. And I felt much, much better.

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