14 going on 35
I’m going to be 35 tomorrow.
I’m not freaked out or worried about being 35 at all. Some of the coolest people I know didn’t come into themselves until 40. Age, as all sayings would have you believe, is relative. Having said that, I will say that growing up I thought I’d know a hell of a lot more at 35 than I actually do.
Starting with the most obvious fact, that I would FEEL like I was 35. I don’t. I guess in some ways, I know this to be true- I have spent 35 years attached to a giant spinning rock blowing through space. I have no actual scientific skills to understand entirely how that happens, but I do know it has. 35 times.
I also thought I’d have my shit together a lot more than I do. When relaying this exact sentiment yesterday, my friend was genuinely taken aback , “but.. you DO!” she exclaimed. Once again perception is in the eye of the person who doesn’t know how often major decisions come from flying by the seat of my pants.
In so many ways I feel stuck at 14. You know, that awkward stage when you are certainly not a child anymore, - you’re outwardly a woman-ish, but inside you still want to be cuddled and reassured that things will all work out, and that you have all the time in the world. Worried about her hair, and her face, and her body. Wondering if people like her, and why the hell that cute guy still loves her despite looking like Hagrid when the weather is humid.
And, above all, she’s still wondering who she is, why she’s here, and if she’ll ever get to the point of not binging teen rom-coms on Netflix the minute she’s left alone.
In the last few years we have moved again, I have restarted a life for myself and my kids in a new place, I have met more people, grown apart from others, and found roots and a deeper connection to people I would never have guessed would have ended up so close to my heart.
Occasionally, I felt as lonely as the kids I was consoling. But I reminded them it would be ok. You won’t ever replace a best friend that you miss with all your heart, but you might meet some other friends that will bring something unexpected into your life, too.
And, as the months marched on, and new friends filled our house with laughter and some pretty epic parties, I realized I had come to a point in my life where I would, if but briefly, stop wondering if these people liked me, but rather, if I liked them.
I started to feel more like the woman I looked like on the outside.
I don’t know if it was rebounding from a rough first year (ok, fine… 18 months) in our new city, but I found myself making bolder choices, and taking steps I had always felt like I had more time to accomplish.
Instead of ‘next year’, or ‘when I have time’, I set everything in motion to begin NOW. Whether I felt ready or not, if I never pushed ‘start’, nobody would.
So, I did it. One giant leap at a time.
I met up with an incredible woman who helped get my book organized and ready for agents. She, in turn, pushed me to get up and speak at an event. And in prepping for the event and telling people what I was up to, I was enveloped in a sea of support I didn’t even know existed.
All factions of my life reached out, and whether in-person or virtually, I was riding such a wave of love I wasn’t even sure what to say. Which, is very, very unusual for me.
I took another leap and decided now was the year to take our beloved mare to the World Show. I had been kicking the idea around for years, but never felt like I was good enough. I certainly wasn’t skinny enough, and I needed more work on this whole western thing before I could go. Sure, my horse was ready. She’s beautiful and my trainer is amazing. But could I do it?
Well, I supposed I would never know if I didn’t try. So I booked the time off work, made the arrangements and it’s a done deal. I will be showing our horse at the World Grand Nationals this October in Oklahoma. I won’t look as thin and wispy on a horse as I want to (newsflash- I have never looked wispy a day in my life. Why would I think I would now?), but a girl with a butt and boobs deserves to ride her horse at the world show, too.
So here I am. On Brittany’s Birth Eve. Feeling less than 35 but finally more than 14.
A woman in a woman’s body for what feels like the first time.
Unless a Backstreet Boys song comes on. Then I can assure you, she’s back, and she’s going to sing both Nick and Brian’s parts, with all accompanying dance moves, like only a 14 year-old mega fan can do.