“Don’t say that!” the twentysomething hotel shuttle driver exclaimed after I told him my age. Having had a generous glass of wine earlier that night at supper, I decided to engage in a little chitchat en route to my room. “No, I’m 39 years old, and that’s okay. I’m not upset about it.” He then asked what year I graduated high school, and when I replied “1993,” he exclaimed, “No way!!! That’s the year I was born!”
I’m currently on tour with a musical production of Dirty Dancing (yes, as in “nobody puts Baby in a corner”). My boyfriend is in the orchestra, and I was probably the oldest “merch girl” on earth for the first seven months of the run. The show is scheduled to go nonstop through summer 2016, and we made the decision to tough it out on the road together versus missing each other and having bad Skype sessions crush our souls a little every night.
Having now shed the inglorious merch position, I’m settling into a groove of writing, reviewing yoga studios and teaching as we travel North America for the next year. It feels good to be back to my somewhat normal grown-up self again—albeit living out of a suitcase and opting out of gatherings where the word “shots!” is shouted every few minutes and moving into new digs every 7 to 14 days.
Anyhow, somewhere along the way, over the past 12 months, something shifted and I feel, well, older. There’s no other way to describe this. There’s been a definite shift, and I’m not saying that it’s bad. Just different, all of a sudden. Part of me says that I’m simply road-weary, which is true. However, deep down inside, I know that I am now officially on this side of my 30s and no longer on that side.
Here are a few things that I’m starting to notice:
1. People call me ma’am.
2. I rarely get carded, and when I do it’s because they’re carding everybody.
3. Much, much older men hit on me. Sometimes it’s sweet, other times, not so much.
4. I am completely invisible to twentysomething boys, unless they are “cougaring,” which is gross.
5. Twentysomething girls generally give me glaring looks, like I’m a piece of spoiled food left out on the counter.
6. I cannot keep up with my roots. They appear meaner and whiter every ten days. I’m toying with the idea of going grey.
7. I have zero tolerance for bad food, wine or company.
8. It’s becoming easier by the day to speak my mind.
9. Sometimes, I choose sleep over sex.
10. I don’t know half of the celebrities on magazine covers at the grocery checkout, nor do I care to find out who they are.
Here are some other things I’m noticing:
1. I am no longer the cute yoga teacher. For the first time in my career, I’m being taken seriously and no longer have to work so hard to prove myself.
2. I spend money and time on myself. I’m my best investment.
3. Vitamin C serum and coconut oil are my new best friends.
4. I have dessert. I bake it, I eat it, and I enjoy it—and I don’t feel any guilt associated with it.
5. Spending quality time alone is a must. I take myself to the beach, dinner and the movies.
6. I’m starting to ignore anyone who may bring negativity into my life. My time is precious, and I shall not waste it.
7. I take my sweet time. What is the rush?! I want to time-travel back and scream at my younger self.
8. I talk to my mom every day. No matter what.
9. I have higher standards for my partner. I’m worth it.
10. No sleep or not enough sleep equals crazy lady mode. I work on getting adequate sleep every night, and sometimes I succeed and wake up feeling rested.
I look over at my 40-year-old boyfriend and laugh at how his salt-and-pepper hair and beard somehow make him more attractive. He can wake up, barely brush his teeth, and leave the house with his crazy bed-head looking sexy, just as he’s done his entire life. Me, not so much. I definitely need time to preen and smooth out some rough edges before I hit the pavement. Not Botox-celebrity-housewife preening, but some serum and moisturizer go a long way these days.
I’m out here living a pretty off-the-wall lifestyle and creeping toward 40. I’m opting out of opening night parties, limiting my alcohol intake, hydrating, meditating and staying true to myself—and it’s okay. I’m okay with it, even if the world wants me not to be. I’m 39 and it’s okay.