Today, I am 38.
My mom ordered me Prevention magazine. She didn’t tell me she did it, it just started appearing on my doorstep with things like ‘Lose the belly fat’ and ‘Walk your anxiety away’ and I thought I might have filled out something about either my belly fat or my anxiety while waiting for my annual physical, or in my therapist’s office? Or maybe, Prevention just had census information and like *knew* I was at 40’s doorstep, waiting to cross the official threshold of midlife. Prevention wanted to USHER me through. Forever etched in my memory is a moment at one of my first adult-jobs, sitting in a cube, listening to a colleague of mine talk about dating a guy and thinking, ‘Man, I hope I’m not dating at 37’ – which was how old she was.
So, cheers! I am not dating at 37. Or rather, I’m not dating at 38?
I never made the connection – that not dating would mean either not-with-anyone or committed-for-life, I just didn’t, at that moment, envy the lonely-hearted. And today, in truth – I am lonely-hearted.
I am typically depressed around my birthday – and each year I wait for it to hit, and then I spend time analyzing it. And each year I think I’ve got it totally nailed down, why it’s hitting me and what it’s about and how I will conquer it the next go ’round.
What’s true for this year is that I feel like I’m better. Like – things make more sense. I feel more Erin in a way that is comfortable. Like, maybe I’m getting it? Not the birthday-depression – just all of it – life in general. (And then I think by the time I totally get it, I’ll be 80, and wish we could live longer?) I know I need sleep and I go to bed. I know eating well will help me feel good. I know that my body is perfect in its imperfection. I know that running will kill (at least a little?) the endless time I could over-analyze what being 38 really means. I know that being angry is about fear, and doesn’t make me feel good, and I know that over and over and over again, forgiveness is better. I know that being right is not worth anything, actually, even if that’s hard to know that in each moment wholeheartedly. I know that I don’t know what all of you are going through, and it’s unfair to judge anything, really – even if it’s hard to know that in each moment wholeheartedly.
Like this morning I didn’t know it entirely when I listened to the woman in front of me at Starbucks place her (extremely intense) order. Or when the Starbucks lady heard Mary, instead of Erin, and wrote that on my birthday-cup-of-joe. I suppose I could be a Mary?
I know that I have infinite capacity to love. I know that if a relationship didn’t work out it doesn’t mean that I am unlovable, even if that’s so hard to know today, when I am celebrating my birthday alone.
So I allowed myself an hour to cry – because while most of the time, I feel like I’ve got it – all of it, that is – on the big days, like a birthday, I’m a little lonely. And it’s hard to admit to being lonely. And I feel like admitting the hard to admit stuff is important, because I think being lonely is okay – and it doesn’t mean I’m not happy with my life in general, or didn’t get celebrated like the queen I am today, because I did. I am currently surrounded with wine, flowers, and cards. And in general, I am a happy girl. I’m writing while sitting in the sun with a glass of really good wine, in a comfy chair, surrounded by flowers, listening to the neighborhood. I love where we live. And I love my daughter. And I love my job, my colleagues that showered me with birthday love today, and my family, and have an incredible community of friends that are supportive and compassionate and artistic and creative and who I learn from all the time.
So thank you for a lovely birthday, community.
Thank you for the hugs, wine, cards, and the flowers – for the Maine sweatshirt, for the unicorn-filled messages, and the lantern, and the amazing banner from the Art Institute (that is one for the books) – and just thank you for the love. It helped this lonely girl celebrate another trip around the sun and was a good reminder that I have an immense amount of things to be grateful for.