Ah, birthdays. The annual celebration we all have each year to remind us that we are getting old.
“Do you feel any different?” The age old question asked to most every year. As a younger person, I rolled my eyes at that question, but I began to ponder it recently. There are certain ages when, yes, one does physically feel different. When you turn one you start growing teeth, start walking, and talking. When you become a teenager, well we all know what happens to us in those magical years. From late teens to mid twenties things change, but not as noticeably. A body is always changing inside, but outwardly, late teens to early twenties seemed the same to me. I looked the same and felt the same. I could stay up late and wake up okay in the morning. I could party harder and still go for jogs the next morning. Detox jogs I called them in college. Sweat out the poison. I could eat junk food and not gain weight. I was able to pull all nighters and still function properly in class, depending on your definition of function. It was around my 25th birthday when I started noticing the mid to late twenties effects. It became slightly harder to recover from long nights out. My ability to eat excessive amounts of cheese fries began to wane. Having too much soda made my stomach hurt and actually started to keep me up at night.
26-28 the late twenties effects took more of a role in my life. It became evident some changes in my lifestyle were needed. I stopped eating Poptarts for breakfast and poptarts in the middle of the night. I started trying to drink more water instead of soda. I realized I needed to train better for races, and that I should sometimes refuse the things I so desired, such as the hot dog and cheese fries option on menus at restaurants. And as you are all well aware and I won’t let you forget, I changed my name at the age of 28.
This year I’ve turned 29, just in case you forgot what comes after 28. I have bittersweet feelings as I begin the year that marks the end of a decade. I had a pretty stellar decade. The late twenties effects are actively roaring in my 29th year. My knees crack a little more when I get up from a seated position. I look haggard in the morning if I stay up past midnight. In the morning for work, I can’t get ready in 10 minutes anymore. That of course doesn’t stop me from waking up later than I should. I keep my hair short because I know if it were long I’d never do it properly in the morning and because even though I am 29 I still have that teenage angsty attitude that I have to be different than everyone. On the weekends, I no longer have the desire to stand in a tight crowd in a small bar bouncing up and down to loud music for hours and hours. These days I’d rather sit at a bar in a semi-quiet area talking to friends or even sit in front of the TV with Zach, sip wine, and watch The Parent Trap OnDemand (that actually happened). Occasionally, the dance-a-thon outing that Zach and I are famous for is fun, but my body physically cannot keep up with my extravagant leg kicks, bizarre arm swinging, and my classic back bending air guitar moves EVERY weekend anymore.
I was at a wedding in the beginning of September for my friend Jess. There was a DJ at the after party and we danced like we were 17 again. At one point, I found myself in the middle of a dance circle. I did my classic air guitar move where I go down on my knees and lay all the way back while air guitaring. If you’ve been at a wedding with me, you’ve probably seen me do it and I’m sure you shook your head and said I can’t believe she’s doing that move again. Typically, I can get myself back up. Lying back on my legs, I put my hands in the air reaching for anyone and everyone waved their hands back, laughing. I shouted, “No really, I can’t get up.” Zach had to pull me to my feet. This was probably because the weekend before I was at a wedding for my friend Danielle and I did the same move more than once. If aging has taught me anything, it’s that I need to ration my air guitar moves.
At the end of September, we went to another wedding with some of my family. It was downtown near our apartment. The next day my sister-in-law said what’d you guys do last night? Did you go to the afterparty? Did you stay out late? She was probably expecting us to regale them with a classic Zach and Kate crazy night out tale. I replied, “We got a drink together after the reception then stocked up at Wawa and snacked the night away and watched the Steve Jobs movie at home.” Speaking of that movie, I am huge Apple fan and was rather disappointed with that movie.
A week ago I awoke in the middle of the night and my left big toe was throbbing. I ran to the bathroom in a scurry, trying not to wake Zach. I looked down and my toe was swollen and red. I resorted to my dad’s classic cure all, Motrin. In about a day, the toe returned to its normal size. Why? Who knows, but it’s fine now.
I think I am gracefully embracing the late twenties effects and adjusting certain quirks accordingly, even though in my mind I am still 24. Yes, I have accepted I’ll need to change my lifestyle with each passing year, but my heart is stubborn and refuses to move forward. I accept that it will stay a young twenty-something forever. Everyone is aware how I like to celebrate my own birthday and I think we should all do that. It’s not a depressing thing to turn one year older, it’s magnificent that we are lucky enough to be alive and able to lament together about the effects of aging. Ultimately, the key is to stay young at heart and keep reminding ourselves what Mark Twain once told us, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”