Monday, April 17, 2006

As time goes by

IT HAS begun. Try as I might to ignore the fact- now that it has started, there is no stopping it. There is no turning back the clock and starting again- no appreciating what we had when we had it- because, dear friends, welcome to our 30s.

Today, (Friday for those who got a sneaky preview of this paper on Thursday due to the Holy Week thing) one of my VBFs (very best friends) is celebrating her 30th birthday.
Next week another friend relinquishes her 20s title and eight weeks after that it is my own turn to give in to destiny and admit I'm no longer a spring chicken.
It seems like a mere blink of an eye ago that we were sat in Henry J's on Magazine Street toasting today's birthday girl's 21st - dancing stupidly to the Macarena and drinking cocktails. Indeed I was young, free and single and eying up the handsome young devil her boyfriend had invited along.
Now I would be hard pushed to remember the Macarena (and could quite possibly break a hip doing it), would be drunk on a wine gum never mind a cocktail and am about to celebrate my fifth wedding anniversary to the handsome, but not so young, devil her boyfriend invited along.
Yes, things have moved on considerably and there is no denying that we are collectively entering a whole new phase in our lives.
For those of you who have already hit the big 3-0 and beyond, I wonder how you felt as it approached. I've heard of some people becoming virtual hermits and hiding away until the day passed . Others have taken to doing something major to the mark the occasion (my sister got a tattoo AND got engaged- how's that for making an impact?). One friend took a hissy fit and locked her husband out of the house, others have just let it wash over them like any other ordinary day.
I'm not sure how I feel about it. The logical side of my brain tells me it is, of course, just another day and age is more about your state of mind that what your birth certificate says. But on the other hand, there has to be a stage in your life when you finally accept you are an adult- doesn't there?
The thing is, 30 feels grown up. It feels like a proper grown up age where you should have proper grown up responsibilities and perhaps think about wearing proper, grown up, sensible shoes and perhaps using a scarf to keep the cold out instead of just as a pretty fashion accessory.
My 20s were, I guess, a time of experimenting with my life, building towards my future and laying the foundations of my very own family unit.
There was plenty of drinking, laughing, going out and having fun (especially in the first half of the decade) and things changed quickly- more quickly perhaps than ever before or they are ever likely to again.

Settled down
I started dating, got engaged and then married to himself. We bought a house, settled down and started a family. We built up our stock of furniture from two bedside tables and an bookcase to a proper home with our very own sofas and beds. I finished studying for my Masters Degree and secured a proper full time job where I had my own desk to sit and an phone extension all of my own. Of course, and to labour the point for those who haven't yet realise just what an achievement this is for me, I learned to drive and became a bona fide legal driver.
Your 30s are, in turn, supposed to be a time when the insecurities disappear and you can, in theory at least, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours through those hectic years of yours 20s.
They are supposed to be an era when you grow fond of wrinkle creams and find yourself longing for an ISA or comparing the merits of different pension schemes. It's all supposed to be less complicated in your 30s and you are supposed to feel in control. I guess that is where the feeling like a proper adult comes into it.
But do I feel in control? Well- not really. I'm still not entirely sure of what I want to be when I'm older. Don't get me wrong. I love my job and the opportunities it affords me, but I can't see myself sitting here day and in day out until I'm 65 (or older if the government have their way).
I have no inclination for an ISA and I frequently forget to slap on the eye cream before I go to bed.
There are things which, by their very nature, make me feel older-most notably, when I hear a walking, talking toddler shout 'Maaaaameeeee' and I know he is looking for me- or when I go out to a bar or club (ha! Me at a club! I can't remember the last time!) and see the young ones around me and realise that in all likelihood a decent proportion of them are 12 years younger than I am.
But feeling older and feeling like a proper grown up are two entirely different things, in my opinion.
According to my ever wise Mammy, who celebrates a big birthday herself this year, you never really feel grown up. There will forever be a part of you that feels like that 21 year old dancing the Macarena- I suppose I will cling on to that hope as the next few weeks pass.

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