It’s maddening, really. I’ve made it to the last year of my 30s and I know, in the way I usually don’t know until much later with the benefit of time and distance, that this last year was a tipping point, a harbinger of things to come. Momentous, even. I’m bursting to full of things I want to write about.

What’s maddening is that all I can think to write are clichés—things even MY PARENTS have already said. All the ways I can now relate better to them, in fact. All the signs I am in a new category of old. (The “oldies” station now plays ‘80s music. What?) All the ways I want to live stronger, be adventurous, be truer to myself than I have been. I want to surround myself with the things I’ve always loved—writing, music, nature. I’m even pressuring my husband to move 25 minutes away to a 5-acre property with an old barn.

I want change—I want to hang on to its shoulders and give it a head-butt, grab it before it grabs me. To just move, so I don’t look back and see stagnancy. But I am also savoring my little ones because I have a feeling this, right now, is as good as it gets. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Basically, I’m going through a mid-life crisis and my writer self is rolling her eyes at me. Really? she says. This is so….expected. And unexceptional. 

But still, I think:

Man, it’s going fast.

I can’t believe I used to babysit you!

You’re 40?! I once saw you pee on my bathroom floor in a swimsuit! Aren’t we still those same little girls?

What in the world can I write worth reading that hasn’t been written a thousand times before? This past year, yes, was an absolute mind fuck—from finally accomplishing my “someday” dream of publishing a novel (I did it! I did it!), and then watching it whizz by on its way to the past, where it lodged itself comfortably; to the news that my body carries on a family tradition of not having a certain cancer-fighting gene which, really, would have been nice to have (how lazy can one gene be to not even show up?); to the scary surgery monster of metallic dreams and hollow drips, of pain and awakening realizations that this little, old body can only take so much. And at the same time, how goddamn much it can take.

So this year was a culmination of sorts and a push to a future I have always disliked, one I now reach for and hold on to with tired but strong fingers. Something has shifted in me. I have moved from being a consummate fan of the past with its soft, glowing edges, to a lover of the present and future. It is simply too depressing to focus on what I miss—my babies’ fat wrists and dimpled knuckles, my 1981 Strawberry Shortcake shirt. I am here, now, and will not always be. That is this year’s greatest gift to me: the deep understanding that I am fleeting.

It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ~Abraham Lincoln

Bring it, future. ~Jessica Vealitzek

39th birthday


12 responses to “39”

  1. mdaniels4 Avatar

    Yep you got here, or there. Whatever. Actually, now the fun really starts.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Mmmm, such a great point of view.

  2. Barbara Ackles Avatar
    Barbara Ackles

    Great way to describe it…..

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks! Sorry for the swearwords, Mom.

  3. Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer) Avatar

    Welcome, my friend. You just made midlife club a whole lot more [insert favorite cuss word] awesome. Also, this post just became one of my favorites. xoxo

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      So glad, Hallie–thank you!

  4. macjam47 Avatar

    May all your future years be bright and wonderful, knowing that you’ve survived one of the toughest years.

  5. Allie Gillies Avatar

    Happy Birthday! 40 is the BEST- you finally are free of all the CRUD and you can be who you want to be and not give a care what anyone else thinks. I am free of worry. Free to be me. I’m half way through my life- I’d better let all the insecurities go so I can live!!! Happiest Birthday wishes to you!!!!!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I’ve heard this often, and I’m starting to feel it, too (though I have one more year til I’m actually 40). Thanks, Allie!

  6. Melissa Crytzer Fry Avatar
    Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Such a GORGEOUSLY written post, Jess by a gorgeous and talented woman. You DO have plenty to say my friend. PLENTY! (And I can’t wait to read every word). I had the mid-life crisis thing going on about the same age as you. Once you get past that 38-41 hump, you’ll be golden. Though, it sounds like you’re already embracing with gusto — me, too! Is your b-day the 18th? That’s my mama’s, too!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, Melissa! You are a great friend. It does feel like a hump, one that I’m on my way down from and feeling better about.
      My birthday is the 13th–Friday the 13th, luckiest day there is!

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