My Life at 40

Yes, it’s true, I’m now the big 4-0. I wish I could blame my recent sleepless nights solely on this point, however, I cannot. Believe me when I say that there was no joy, no excitement in turning 40. Sure, for some it’s just a number, and in the grand scheme of things that’s true but it is a milestone birthday. When my husband called me one minute before midnight I whined about not wanting to be forty as if I was a child not wanting to go to my bed, afraid that there would be something that I would somehow miss.

This isn’t the 2020 any of us expected. Many of us looked forward to what we thought would be a banner year. There was just something sexy, new, and at its onset alluring about 2020. And yet, 2019 decided it would only go kicking and screaming. Now, with my birthday only a few hours behind me I suppose it’s as good a time as any to reflect on this past year. A defining year that ushered in such changes that life will never again be the same.

As for family, I have been able to quarantine in a bubble that includes my immediate family members. Two members are frontline workers but we all follow precautions and only unmask when we’re around each other. So, there are still some things that have remained the same, and that have been strengthened. Routine family dinners, talking on the phone each day, playing games, all of these are things we still get to do. We were even able to take a quarantine vacation in July. For several days we stayed at a cottage and celebrated the 18th birthday of my nephew who is now away at Basic Training. Oorah. For some of us that was also the time that we would become Animal Crossing: New Horizons addicts. Truly, no one needs more than one Nintendo Switch but I currently have two. I couldn’t be called a fan of the game if I didn’t also purchase the ACNH edition of the Switch when it again became available at regular price! Plus, yesterday my sister and I wore our ACNH sweatpants in our coordinated outfit for the day. You can’t see them in this post’s photo but trust me, I’m wearing them!

And speaking of family, I really miss my extended family. For at least 20 years we have had a family tradition around where and with whom we spend Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 2020 made sure that it would change that. While it’s nice to have Zoom as a stopgap until we can again see each other in person, I miss being with them. Not seeing those faces, giving hugs, and spending time with my cousins and “play cousins” has been difficult. The thing is, I am fine being a loner, but these precious and treasured holiday moments are things that I actually look forward to. I credit them as the interactions that I need so I don’t turn into a crazy cat lady. I’ve often felt like I was on that road, being a cat lady without the cats. Allergic.

For as much good that happened on our vacation, its counterpoint was that my grandmother, who at the last minute opted out of our family vacay, became gravely ill. It was a shock for us all because she has always been in exemplary health. Her brush with death was an eyeopener for me. It allowed me to accept the things in my life that I could not change and embrace the things that I could, should, and would change. Her life has changed, and so has mine. I’m blessed to still have her here with me.

I continue to record a mostly weekly podcast with my BFF, In the Stacks with Barry & LaToya. I get to be my alter ego. Who am I kidding, I’m just myself on the show. The only difference is that I am unfiltered and am prone to oversharing. That said, while our show is #NSFW, it provides me with a “free” weekly respite and therapy session where my BFF and his son get to play armchair psychiatrists. Doing the show this year has been a much-needed if not occasionally inconvenient practice. Now that we’re in season 13 it’s crazy to think that we’d ever actually revived the show in the first place. We do the show regardless of how many listeners we may have. Trust me, we have a small but faithful fan base. In 2020 I wonder, will the podcast be a part of my legacy? Will it define it?

A friend of mine brought some levity to my turning 40. It was something that I thought was very considerate given the stresses in his own life. I know that I couldn’t hold on to my thirties, that time had passed. And although I was dreading this new decade of my life he said, “being 40 means you… get to fully lean into being a grumpy older person. Embrace it.” So let it be done.

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