I’ve never really been on-trend. I’ve never been off trend to be honest. I’m not a person who spots things before they happen or really notices them when they have.
I sometimes think that I’ve spotted something really new and exciting but usually find out it’s been done before, as in the time I started reading this amazing book full of magic mingled convincingly with real life and thought I’d stumbled upon a whole new genre. I had. It’s called magical realism and I was approximately fifty years too late.
I hear about new things, things I don’t understand; the YOLOs and ROFLs and other acronyms I either can’t decipher or don’t have a ten-year-old around to explain for me. I then file it away for later research, dismiss or forget.
Actually often I forget.
In truth though, these things aren’t meant for me. They’re not aimed at my generation. I look at my daughter as we sing along companionably to Taylor Swift or boogie (okay possibly showing my age there) together to Bruno Mars, and there’s something in her eyes that says,
‘This song is written for me, Mum. It’s about me discovering the world, fresh and new and full of youngsters with lip-curling attitude and sassy indifference to anyone over the age of thirty. Move over old lady, you’ve had your turn.’
And it’s true. It really is but it makes me a little sad and at the same time it makes me wonder, is this where a mid-life crisis begins?
When I was a kid, a mid-life crisis was a joke on a 70s sitcom and therefore probably didn’t exist. The trouble is, I think I should have done more lip-curling, given a bit more cheek to adults and truth be told, shaken my booty at a few more men.
I reached the age of forty last year. People above that age react to this news by crying,
‘Is that all?’ to which I reply,
‘Yes thank you.’
People below that age are largely indifferent because provided you’re under thirty five, it’s never going to happen, right?
Wrong. It will happen. Even on my birthday I was clinging to my thirties by telling anyone who would listen that I wasn’t born until 6 pm so it was all fine. By 6 pm I was too drunk to care. The next day I felt fine (apart from the hangover). People were right. It was just a number. I’m no different to the person I was last year.
However, I am starting to notice subtle changes. I get creaky back pains, my limbs click a little more than they used to and I positively rattle with vitamins. I visit an osteopath regularly. I’ve started doing Pilates. I’ve got a mild to serious obsession with death (‘Half way through, I’m half way through!’) and I try to do a crossword on a semi-regular basis in order to preserve the brain cells that I have.
At a weekend get-together for one of my university friends’ fortieth birthdays we found ourselves politely sipping Prosecco and discussing electric toothbrushes. I know. It pains me to type the words.
But my brain’s not ready to comply. My brain still thinks it’s seventeen (it should be eighteen but you can’t tell my brain). I want to be pre-university, ready to face the world, full of energy and vital limbs and a liver than can still cope with an alcoholic pounding.
At a recent wedding I bought one of my first pairs of proper heels and did my best to walk in them without resembling a newly born giraffe. It was tough. My feet were bruised. I was four inches taller than my husband. I lost a toe nail. Did I care? Not a jot.
I want to learn to dance. Properly. To be whirled and shimmied and spun around the floor like that fairytale princess us feminists are not supposed to hanker after. Oh please Germaine, just one dance, we’re only human.
I want to laugh like I did when I was a teenager; about nothing and everything. Pure unbridled, unflinching glee.
So maybe that is a mid-life crisis. The slight panic about being half way, the realisation that time is precious and there’s still so much to do. And in a way, it’s a good thing. It’s a necessary thing. I like it.
And possibly the best thing about being forty? People can afford the best surprises. Which is why my husband took me to New York and do you know what we did? Did we party until dawn every night, dance at the hippest clubs, eat at the flashest restaurants and drink Cosmopolitans until we fell over?
Did we buffalo.
We ate bagels (none of your pretend English pap), cheesecake (almost the best I’ve ever tasted), knishes (disgusting) and the best Italian pizza and stir-fried shrimp I’ve ever eaten. We took in a brilliant Broadway show (Carole King’s Beautiful), visited the best art gallery in New York (The Frick Collection), walked the High-Line and took the Staten Island Ferry. We sang ‘Manhattan’ wherever we went. We walked hand in hand, talked and laughed like in the pre-children days. We even stayed up until 3 am having seen the brilliant Louis C.K. at the Comedy Cellar.
We took Manhattan and we loved it and the best thing?
We faced our trip with the enthusiasm of the teenagers we once were but with the well-researched Trip Advisor tips and comfortable Fitflop trainers of the fortysomethings we now are.
We’re not stupid.
We know how to live and live we shall with the impulsive note of a teenager mingled with the experience of age. We just might live it a bit more slowly and wear comfortable shoes.
If this is mid-life crisis, I’m ready for it.
This post first appeared last year on the brilliant Katie Oliver’s website. If you haven’t already discovered her fantastic’Mr Darcy’ books, you’re in for a treat. Read more about her here http://katieoliver.com/ko/