This week our theme came from Sister 3. We called her up late last night - as she was just coming home from work!!! - and said we were stumped. So she said: ' why don't you do something on birthdays?' And of course that would come to her mind. This time of year is big on birthdays in our family. Both my sisters and my father had birthdays recently. And even my husband's family treats this month as 'Let's be born and Party' time. In fact, he's in Istanbul right now having a joint celebration with his mum. He's just turned 40 and she 70. 40. I know. More on that in a minute.
My husband took our daughter with him for a bit of quality travelling , and Max and I decided to stay home. We're having a good time of it so far. He's playing lots of make believe games and watching everything he likes on tv (unlike me: why isn't Glee! on my streaming channel yet?). He's even persuaded me to make some chocolate crepes. Husband and daughter report having a really good time too, and MIL told me yesterday she's loving her celebration. So, so far so good.
Except I'm left here worrying about turning 40. Because Husband and I were born a few months apart the same year (1970 - an excellent vintage for philosophers).
It's not that I'm worried about getting older. I've come to realise over the years that this tends to happen on a day to day basis rather than on big birthdays. No, I'm fine with that. It's more to do with the realisation that, come forty, you're meant to be a certain way. Respectable, maybe. Adult, definitely. Better dressed. So with a few months to go, I'd like to review the list of 'Things I'm meant to have got right before turning 40' and see how I score. Why don't you see how you score too if you're not 40 yet? And if you are 40, feel free to add things to my list!
Things I'm supposed to get right before turning 40
1) I suppose I should know how to drive. And I should own a car. You know, one of those big things that stand high on the road, has a big boot for putting all the bikes and shopping bags, and the kids are permanently strapped in the back sipping juice from boxes, making crumbs, and peeing in bottles. Everyone else I know who's 40 drives and has one of these. Except my husband. Plus it's just not going to happen.
2) I think I ought either to wear heels, or 'sensible shoes'. I don't think I'm going to be allowed to wear Converse and Harley Davidson boots once I'm 40. And I might as well give up on the idea of buying the new pair of DM's I've been wanting for the last ten years (as my old ones died just as I was leaving England). No one is going to sell me them once I'm 40.
3) Probably there will be compulsory trips to the hairdresser. Maybe I'll turn grey and have to 'colour'? Or cut it very short and dye it blue? It's not that I don't trim my hair. I'm aware of the dangers of split ends, and what they can do to your general health and well-being, as well as the social stigma. So a few weeks ago, I took the pair of scissors that I got for free from Boots ten years ago, and I trimmed. So what if it's not very regular - my hair is one big long mess anyway, who's going to notice?
4) They might make me wear make up, mightn't they? I might have to attend a class in a department store on how to apply it. Foundation and all. Maybe I could get a friend to plaster it on on the day they test me, and then the respectable police will leave me alone.
5) I once read in a novel by the woman who wrote Sex and the City that forty year old women now look better than thirty year old ones. That they've lost weight, had 'things done', and are generally more toned and better dressed. Oops. Shit. Not gonna happen.
6) Oh yes, I should be somewhere on the property ladder, shouldn't I, not leaving on University accommodation. Well, we've been looking at the ladder recently. There's this cute little house in Selcuk, near Izmir, we'd really like to own for our holidays. It's cheap but not so cheap we can buy it outright, and borrowing money in Turkey if you're a foreigner can be complicated. So probably not going to happen.
7) Re: money. I'm pretty sure we're supposed to have more than we do. But hey, we've got retirement funds! Yes, we have! And some savings! (though not enough to buy a very small house in Turkey, and probably not enough to buy a car in the UK). And no debts! Hurrah!
8) I should have written a book. Not a philosophy book, been there done that. But a novel. I should be a best selling novelist by now. And very rich so I could buy lots of cars I can't drive and cute little houses on the sea side.
9) Should I have had another child? I was hoping to have three. But with Max's diagnosis and the life complications that ensued we decided that probably not. Not before we're 40 anyway. Plus we can't afford a third. Plus two is far too much work already! How am I supposed to hold down a job, save for a house and write a best-seller if I have three kids?
10) Know who I am. Well, fuck that for a lark. I'm a philosopher, I'm entitled to skepticism about personal identity. So that's one I won't worry about.
I would have thought a few pictures of Istanbul might conclude this post nicely. Except I'm not there to take them. So instead I'll treat you to a photo of what Max is up to while his sister is away.