I can always conjure it up in my mind: Shug Avery running through the field next to her father’s horse and carriage calling out, “I’s married now!” thinking it would set things right with him and erase years of abondoned children, carousing, and the kind of sexual experimentation that went against her upbringing. Shug tried it, but it didn’t quite work in the moment. I’m no Shug Avery (yet), but I did just celebrate a milestone birthday and it may not erase everything that happened from 0-39, but it is a sign I may need to stop doing some things, do a few things differently, and start doing others. I’s forty now.
I was walking and thinking today. I thought about some behaviors I should definitely end and wondered about some experiences I haven’t had that I should definitely add to my bucket list. I compiled a short list in my head and will likely add to it over time.:
1. I need to buy better panties. Not that I was wearing someone’s great-grandmother’s bloomers with the ruffled elastic arond the knees, but at forty, I definitely need to make sure I stay in the pretty panty section and ignore the all-too-familiar call and draw of the four pack of cottony soft Jockeys hanging on the wall. I mean, I’m forty now, I need the special panties displayed in the bins that are 5 for $20. I think I’ve earned it. I’m moving on from the pack of four for $10 to the upscale draws that cost $4 per pair. Shoot, I’m feeling fancier just making this declaration. How can I really expect to enjoy forty if I’m wearing the panties of a thirty-nine year old?
2. I need to buy a bigger TV. For years, I said my 27″ TV was more than sufficient. I’m not one obsessed with the newest electronics, though I dig convenience and technology in general. I could see the picture, it was paid for, and just because it had the old school tubing and humongous back making it impossible to place it flush with the wall, I kept rockin’ with it anyway. A year and a half ago, I invested in a flat screen, thinking I was moving up the TV hierarchy. It is 32″ inches, which is better than a 27″, but it turns out it is the same size TV most folks I know buy for their small children’s bedrooms. That makes me just a little ashamed of myself, so I’m thinking at forty, it’s time for a grown up sized TV on which to watch my grown up programs. Now, if I could just convince myself a one-time TV cost will not interfere with my shoe shopping hobby…
3. I should invest in a few high end garments for my closet. Though I will never be too old for a fantastic deal or a quick outfit that probably won’t hold up past the night its needed, a good white button up shirt, a black skirt, some black slacks, and a black blazer all made from quality material are items any self-respecting forty year old should have in the closet. It is time for me to go into the grown up store and make things happen.
4. I need to schedule a mammogram. Forty became super real for me when my health care provider’s automated system called me early in the morning the day after my birthday to remind me it was time for me to schedule an appointment to have my boobs smashed between two cold hard plates while a stranger watches and takes pictures of my inner tit. Apparently, the proper name is mammogram. I know it will not be an amazing experience, but it’s necessary, boob health is imperative, and this x-ray is going to help me make stay close to my fitness plans. I just wish there was some sort of box I could stick my boob in instead, but alas, I’m on my way to get them squeezed, and not in the way I like.
5. I need a home bar stocked with high end liquor. When I was a kid, I watched many shows with characters who would come home, loosen a tie or take off some heels, then make a b-line to the home bar to pour a good drink from a fancy decanter. I always thought it strange because I grew up in a house with a mother who didn’t drink, but now, I dream of having such a well-stocked bar in the comfort of my living room. Top shelf alcohol, a cute rolling bar, and some pretty decantors to make me feel fancy are now on my Things To Buy at Forty list. I want to walk in the door and unwind like George and Weezy these days instead of coming home to a Capri Sun mixed with some $5 vodka. I have to do better.
6. I need to buy a grown up bed. When I bought my first bed, I was so proud of myself. I got it at a legitimate furniture store, it wasn’t crafted from wood slats and cinder block, and I even had to work a little overtime to pay for it. What I didn’t consider while I was congratulating myself on my new bed was the fact I needed a mattress and box spring to accompany it. Now strapped for cash after buying the actual bed, I had to find myself a cheap mattress and box spring. I asked around and called a few folks and was referred to a local furniture store that sold what I needed for little money. It was in my price range, so I went for it. That was about twelve years ago. So, for the longest time, I was sleeping on a bed probably made to last no longer than two years. At least I can say I got my money, and probably someone else’s money, out of it. When I moved from my last place, a friend and I threw the mattress and box spring down the stairs and giggled at the destruction. This time, I will buy a grown up bed that costs a grown up SALE price, and I will sleep well and bask in my forty year old woman-ness while experiencing the comfort of my purchase. It is the least I can do for my reputation as a respectable adult and for my 40 year old back.
Forty feels good so far. The past 18 days have been filled with some interesting ups and downs (mostly ups), but I know the privilege of this age is coupled with a responsibility to be better and live better and I plan to do just that.