Thursday, 31 October 2013

Life begins... again

I had a significant birthday the other week: I turned 40. My six-year old son assured me that I was now "properly grown up". This comes from someone whose definition of a grown-up depends upon a peculiar ranking of emotion. "I am not grown up yet," he told us recently, "because I love Mummy more than my girlfriend. When I am a grown-up, I will love my girlfriend more." He declined to reveal the identity of said girlfriend.


Chinese lanterns at a 40th birthday party
Intimations of mortality on turning 40
Lots of friends have asked me how I felt about turning 40. Frankly, on the morning of my birthday, it felt pretty much the same as 39, except that I had a stonking hangover. Life begins at 40, apparently, which is odd because I thought it began four decades ago (and I am sure people told me the same thing when I turned 30). There have obviously been a few false starts along the way.

The funny thing is that with every leap of 10 years, I don't actually feel any older. It's just that young people seem to be getting younger. In some ways, however, my turning 40 is a watershed. After a decade of intensive child-rearing, I am beginning to pay more attention to myself again.

The decision to throw a party to celebrate my 40th year was part of this new self-regard. Hey, look at me, I'm turning 40! The party was to mark a milestone on my journey through life - almost like an intimation of mortality. I had a fabulous night, surfing the room on a wave of love and friendship. However, by drawing attention to my stage in life (there were a couple of speeches), I wonder if I was unconsciously underlining my own unique place in the world. A bit like trying to illuminate my spot on the vast landscape of human experience. 

Just having these kinds of thoughts is another proof of age. At the very least, the party gave me an excuse to buy a new dress and drink an indecent amount of cosmopolitan cocktails. As a result, the point at which I tipped into my fifth decade was a blissful haze of disco lights and sweating dancers. I'm sure I am not the first to discover that intoxication is another good antidote to growing up.


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"Emma is a talented story teller and very quickly you are drawn into the web she weaves. Her characters are extremely believable as they are flawed but very likeable." 

-- Annabel at CountryWives