Scott and I saw the movie "This is 40" last weekend (on New Years Eve, incidentally) and I'll be honest - I loved it and I hated it. It was funny with very real-sounding wisecracks, and a cast of characters that are quintessential Judd Apatow. So why did I hate it? It made my head hurt, it stressed me out.
The movie centers around a husband and wife, turning 40 in the same week, as they tackle the frustrations and grievances of their life as parents, spouses, children, and employees (the joys were briefly apparent too, although they were few and difficult to see). And it was just - a little too real, maybe, for this 28 year old? It made me think about life and choices and disappointments and accomplishments in my own life. In a lot of ways, I'm not even close to where I thought I'd be as I steam toward 30. (I'm being dramatic, I know. But a friend was asking me today if Matt & Kelly had set their wedding date, and I said "oh yes, next October" and she said "wow, that'll be here before you know it" and without a second to contemplate it I said, "yes I'll be 29 then". I mean really? How is that even possible?)
I had a picture in my head of what thirty would look like on me. Clean cut. Responsible. Short (probably brunette) hair. Cardigans. Two story colonial with a driveway and a washer and dryer. And babies - lots of babies. And I dunno, as the days pass and my age continues the (not-so-slow) steady creep north, I just feel like life maybe isn't turning out the way that I had envisioned, and this is exactly what the characters from "This is 40" are facing.
And I'm not saying that any of these differences are a bad thing. I love my life and am living it exactly as I want to right this exact moment. I'm not ready to let go of my blonde highlights, and probably never will be. (What, you thought this was natural? I haven't had "virgin hair" as an aunt once described it since 1996. What of it?) I'm not ready for kids, or responsibility or a minivan or a house in the burbs. I kind of want a tattoo on my hip (trashy? possibly). I bought a pair of leggings today, and Scott laughed at me because I have a closet full of black leggings... but I bought them, and I didn't worry that the money would be better spent in my IRA or on diapers or groceries or a 529 account. (First world issue - definitely).
I guess what I'm saying is that unlike the characters in "This is 40" I'm not dissatisfied with my life - but sometimes I feel like I should be, like I'm falling behind in some cosmic sort of way for not wanting to take the next leap towards the suburbs or housewifery or parenthood. 28 looks a lot different to this generation than it did to our parents, and especially to our parents parents. (My mom had 2 children when she was 28, and I am quite confident that my grandma had more than that). Four of my cousins got married within a year of me (so five of us total) and every single couple has a child, or is currently expecting one. I'm not kidding - every single one. And while I'm overyjoyed for all of them (and adore their babies without hesitation), a part of me wonders if I'm missing the boat by not being there yet - and not wanting to be. My biological clock might be ticking, but my internal clock is drowning it out.
This morning was in the single-digits, temperature wise. As I froze my ass off walking the three blocks from the bus to my office (in 9 degree weather), I texted Scott "let's make Mexico happen in 2013". So we pulled out our calendars, and ya know what? We couldn't find a single week that would work... until December. Eleven months from now. We have the cash, but not the time. And isn't that the rub? Something has to give. Sacrifice this for that. Sacrifice grad school for a full-time job. Sacrifice yoga for beers during the Bears game. Sacrifice babies for "us time". At every turn, life is a balancing act.
I was browsing in a card store last weekend, when I came across a quotation: "Between the wish and the thing life lies waiting". It's my new mantra... I don't want to sacrifice the now by worrying about the then. And I don't want to wish away my life with worry or excitement. I'm so excited for Matt's wedding in October, but I don't want to wish away his engagement. I'm excited to be a parent, but I don't want to wish away the "just us" phase. I'm excited for summer, but don't want to wish away half of the year. And I think that's kind of the point of "This is 40", too. The journey matters.