I turn 40 today.
Yes, yes, happy birthday to me and all that. I'll go home tonight and have some cake and open some gifts and be really and truly grateful I made it to this point in my life.
And after putting on a brave face, I'll quietly inspect my wrinkles, grays, and various sags, and weep for the sad fact that I am, indeed, getting old.
I wouldn't feel that way if I didn't have concrete proof that I'm falling apart. A week and one day after I turn 40, I'll have surgery to repair the rotator cuff I inexplicably tore in the fall down my carpeted stairs that I really felt at the time was not a big deal. I didn't want this. But it happened, and two different medical professionals have told me I have to go through with this if I'd like to be able to use my left arm at all in the future, so the first months of my 40s will be spent in a sling, weak, dependent on others, in pain, and making good friends with physical therapists. It's so exactly the opposite of how someone wants to begin that decade that I feel the need to applaud Fate for her creativity and sense of dramatic irony.
After a year or so of good health, a year where I really felt I had taken charge of my physical fitness and nutritional needs and made strides in the war against middle age, I can't wrap my head around losing this significant battle. I've done everything right. But I was still no match for the powerful combination of high heels and gravity.
Damn you, heels. Damn you all to hell.
As I've said several times already in 2014, it could have been worse. Yes, it could almost always be worse.
That will be so comforting when I wake up from surgery next week unable to move the left side of my upper body and my husband has to help dress me, feed me, and wash my hair. So comforting that if anyone dares tell me that, I will hit them. Hard. With my good arm.
I can't help but feel this is just a sign of things to come. That despite my best efforts to look at age as a state of being and not a number, I actually am getting too old to do certain things. I've taken great pride in my relative physical strength the last few years; I can lift furniture, carry heavy boxes, move the solid wooden tables in my library even if the custodians stacked them end over end, relocate bags of top soil from the garage to the chipmunk holes all over our yard, and basically do anything my suburban mom life needs me to do.
Pride goeth before a fall, however. Oh, how it goeth.
I could, technically, get full strength back inside of a year and go back to carrying overloaded laundry baskets up and and down 2 flights of stairs and moving the dresser in our bedroom out to search and destroy stinkbugs. But these things could also have to be put in the "Ask For Assistance Because You're An Old Lady Now" column. Believe it or not, that makes me sad. I want to stay independent and strong and be that person who works her ass off to help others, not be the one being helped.
A part of me also fears that the day I have to ask for help moving the ottoman is the day I start down a slippery slope that ends in house dresses, orthopedic shoes, early-bird dinner specials, and meeting the girls for water Zumba followed by warm tea and nap time. It's the beginning of the end.
My 30s were eventful. I went through some shit, but everything I went through made me physically and emotionally stronger. I built calluses and muscle and coping mechanisms and discovered craft beer. My 30-something years made me tough.
And I worry that my 40-something years will make me soft.
So, in the coming weeks, if I do not write, it's because I have one arm in a sling and have taken a lot of pain meds and am in general letting myself go in the name of healing.
Send good thoughts and positive vibes and prayers if you're into that sort of thing. This old gal could use all the help she could get.
See you on the other side of 40.