Write On Grrrl

Voice of Empowerment. Not reason.

Forty is NOT the new twenty--Part I

Now hear this. Forty is NOT the new twenty.

It was my birthday sign, created by my husband (and resident artist) André that caught the woman's attention in the Today Show plaza.

"Well," she said, giving me a slightly sympathetic look, "Forty is the new twenty."

Um, do I look sad? A bit tired maybe, but I had been up since 2am.

I'm sure that she was trying to be kind, but I sort of felt bad for her. I mean, she was way past forty herself, and instead of saying, 'Amen girlfriend. It only gets better from here', she went the backhanded compliment route--along the same lines of telling the bride that rain on her wedding day means good luck.

The facts: I turned twenty on September 2, 1991.

That was literally half a lifetime ago. And I don't want to go back.

At twenty, I was a junior at the University of Rhode Island, living with my cousin Lynne in a beach cottage literally a block from the ocean and partying on weekends with my friend, the dollar Rolling Rock.

And life was hard. Seriously.

When I was twenty, I was trying to figure out who I was, what I stood for and who I wanted to be in this world, all while listening to, or opting not to, those voices of judgment that always think you're going about things all wrong. I was working to feel completely comfortable in my own skin. To recognize that I do know best, even though sometimes it's a lonely place to stand.

The truth is, if I were twenty, I wouldn't have even been here, in New York City, literally feet (and sometimes inches) away from rocker Lenny Kravitz, getting a birthday hug from Ann Curry, talking to Matt Lauer about Wes' Rib House or being interviewed on air by Al Roker, with these beautiful birthday signs, in the first place.

When I was twenty, I didn't talk to strangers. What good ever comes of that? You know who you know. Who else do you need to know?

When I was twenty, I would have never, ever butted into a conversation about H&M inside a bar overlooking Times Square, while André went to refill our drinks. (In fact, when I was twenty, I probably wouldn't have even been sitting alone in the first place.) When I was twenty, I would have never chatted up my New Orleans girl, fellow Virgo and kindred music spirit Kristine, who graciously invited André and I to come along on this most fabulous birthday adventure ever, after assessing our character over a couple of cosmos the year before.

Indeed. Forty is not the new twenty.

And please, please, please, don't tell me otherwise.