Let me start off with – I know when I was born. I was born December 14, 1963. I don’t remember much about it, but I do know that the date has been etched in my memory, and it is on my official birth certificate, so it must be accurate.
The title of this blog comes from the interesting information that Word Press provides to those of us who blog here. Among other bits of flotsam and jetsam, it will show a blogger which search terms were used to lead people to your site. One of the terms that showed up today was “When was Kim Justesen born.” I truly do not know who would be interested in this, but hey, if that’s how you found me, then WELCOME! Now you know – I’m 44. I act like I’m 17, sometimes younger. (Me, at a Poison concert last summer!) I had a student who told me recently that I look like I’m younger than 40, but he could just be angling for an A. My step-dad frequently refers to me as being 50. Suffice to say that age is a relative, and often irrelevant thing.
I used to be freaked out about my age. It’s a state of mind that comes and goes with me I guess. Turning 30 was a breeze – I looked younger than 30, I was in great shape (really!), and I was recently married to my adorable, wonderful hubby.
Life rocked at 30. At 32 I quit working to raise kids and develop my writing. At 37 I went back to school and started on my Masters. I loved my 30s. Then 40 came along and I was devastated. Actually, the devastation started at age 38, in anticipation of turning 40.
It has taken me until just the past six months to move beyond my melancholy and decide that things are going to be okay. I’ve come to grips, not only with my age, but with my maturity (and occasional lack thereof).
I think that something about writing my last book (The Deepest Blue) freed something up inside me. I began to truly believe that I am the culmination of my life experiences – good, bad, ugly, wonderful. They are why I am me. I have the resources of those years, those things I enjoyed, those things I survived, and I can use them now, not only as a writer, but as a parent and a partner and a woman and a human. An interesting side benefit of this new comfort level is the way it has allowed me to let go of the anger of my past experiences that were not so pleasant.
Up until very recently, I couldn’t speak of my ex-husband and not feel my jaw begin to clench, or my stomach begin to twist. Then yesterday, talking with my oldest daughter, I found that I could talk about my life with him and smile, even laugh. Yes, he made me miserable at times (and I’m sure he’d say the same of me), and yes, he made me exceedingly angry at times (ditto on that), but he is still a part of why I am the me I am today. His influence isn’t the same as it was just a few years ago, but he is still an influence. I don’t judge it as good or bad or anything, just an influence.
My anger at my dad has diminished, too.
I didn’t realize how much of that I was still harboring in my psyche until the past few months, but now it seems that I can think of him and not experience that turmoil of emotion that came in remembering this dynamic guy who ruled so much of my life. I’ve finally stopped worrying about making him happy, or gaining his approval, or wondering if I’d ever actually make him proud. Believe it or not, just thinking about my dad used to reduce me to an insecure 12-year-old girl up until the very recent past.
My age is a collection of positive, joyous memories, too. My great-grandmother’s lessons in crocheting, my grandfather’s spiritual wisdom and guidance, my uncle’s wacky sense of humor, summer adventures with my cousins, the friends I grew up with, the friends I lost track of, even the pets I’ve owned: all of these are contributors to my very being.
There are other benefits to this new, relaxed attitude as well. I speak more openly (and write more openly) about myself. I care significantly less about what others say, or think, as far as it pertains to me. This allows me to take risks, to explore opportunities, and to live my life more honestly than I have been able to do in the past. Certainly, there is some discretion involved – I’m not going to get in someone’s face and say “Hey, you there, I take pole dancing classes.” While it may be true, not everyone needs to have it stuffed down his or her throat because I feel like being more open and taking more risks. And yes, my kids know about the classes. They just laugh at me, just like they laugh at my roller blades and the fact I want a Moped.
I don’t fear my age anymore, and I don’t dread the “ages” yet to come. What difference would it make anyway? Like I could stop aging? Sure, thousands of dollars of plastic surgery might give me the appearance of being younger, but who wants to look like Dolly Parton or Donatella Versacci?
EEEEKKKKK! That’s not beauty, that’s living embalmbing. Neither of those woman would admit to her age, and that may be another benefit I experience. I’m not good at keeping secrets anyway, so here’s one less to worry about.
So, whoever you are who asked, now you know when I was born. Now you know how old I am. Ultimately, though, does it make a difference? Not to me. I’m learning to enjoy my age, and instead of cringing at each upcoming birthday, I’m learning to celebrate them again for the benchmarks they are: the gaining of another year’s-worth of experience, information, and material for a new book. And if I develop Alzheimer’s, and I ask in all seriousness “When was I born?”, it won’t matter then either. I just hope I chose to go back to being 30. I really did look good then!