It’s difficult to make someone younger than 40 understand how really great life is after 40. I was thinking about this as I lay in bed, waiting for my slightly arthritic hips to wake up as well so I could move. I didn’t say everything was great about life after 40. On the shortlist of "unfavorite things" is deteriorating eyesight, thinning gray hair (thank God for my very talented colorist Tirrani), memory loss, and my personal favorite, incontinence. Sleep has taken on a greater role in my life. Before 40, I stayed awake as much as possible, constantly fearful I would miss something fabulous. After 40, my biggest fear is missing my Sunday afternoon nap.
After 40, watching reruns of “Sex in the City” have become nostalgic for me. I loved those years in my life, but at this point, I really don’t have any desire to relive them. It was an exhausting time, filled with working crazy hours, staying up so late that I saw the sun rise on too many occasions, and trying to keep track of a social life that required an event planner. Did I have fun? More than I had ever hoped for, but now, while Bill and I still have a pretty busy social calendar, it is filled with casual, happy moments with friends instead of bouncing around to as many nightclubs as possible in one evening, and handing out my phone number like it was a winning lottery ticket. It was a blast, but those days are behind me and I am glad. In all honesty, I have no complaints about my life before 40. I had more fun than allowed by law, filled with crazy friends, passionate loves, and that breezy lifestyle that allows you to thumb your nose at responsibility, at least to a point, and do whatever you damn well please. Of course, having my daughter at 34 changed all that quite a bit, but more so, I can look back and admit that even with a child, I was much more carefree pre-middle age. Now, I worry about the big things, like retirement, paying off the house, getting my kid through college, and napping (always a concern.) I also have to worry about my health, which is a new one for me. After a visit to the doctor last week, I discovered I have slightly elevated blood pressure. I was in shock, considering my blood pressure has always been so low that giving blood was not an option for me. Really? Hypertension? Holy crap, I started to wonder if all of those episodes of tremors and pounding headaches were mini-strokes killing me off slowly. Then I realized they were hangovers, and only occurred on Sundays, which by the way, is why the Sunday afternoon nap has become a critical part of my week. I was immediately relieved. The doc put me on water pills that also lower blood pressure. So I filled the prescription and am going to just chalk it up to “getting older.” The bonus? I’ll probably lose five pounds in a week without even trying. I was giddy when the doctor mentioned that part. I asked if he had a pill to get rid of nose hairs and wrinkles. I’m not sure he got my joke.
So many things in life that used to pass by me unnoticed now seem almost poignant at times. Before 40, being still for any given amount of time was nearly impossible. After 40, some of my favorite moments are simply sitting with Bill, in near silence, as we watch the news or comb through our emails. We don’t need to be constantly moving, constantly chasing some new “thing” that requires our attention. I’m thankful for those quiet moments when I can simply breathe and be content with my life. We talk about the future and what we want to do when we reach the next chapter. Do we live on a boat somewhere down south? Do we become snowbirds? If we travel the winters in an RV, we can simply park it in my daughter’s driveway for the summer months and drive her crazy. She’s really not on board with that idea, by the way. We’ve had the discussion. She’s threatening to leave the country and not tell us where she is. I think she is kidding…maybe.
A friend posted on their facebook page today “happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.” No wonder I am so happy about where I am at this moment in my life, post-40. I have so much to be happy about now, so many happy memories about where I have been, and so much to look forward to in the future.