I remember distinctly when I turned 21 how many people would tell me that “from now on, your life will fly by”. Equally distinctly, I remember telling them that they were only saying that because they were older and filled with regret for all the things they didn’t do when they were my age. Oh! How I now regret my arrogance of youth!
At the end of this month I will be 40! That threshold of achievement brings with it mixed emotions. Firstly, I find myself wanting to find whoever it is that is in charge of working out people’s ages, because seriously, someone has messed up big time! I mean, how the hell can I be 40? I was only 21 a couple of years ago! That in turn brings me on to the second emotion, of wanting to go back and tell all those old people filled with regret that I’m sorry, that they were right all along, and that time does indeed slip through your fingers like fine sand; and now, I too am thinking about all those things I never got to do.
But I still have time!
As I approach my 40th birthday, I am finding that I am not dreading it at all. In fact, I’ve started to peel away the layers of all the fears and doubts and the notions of “one day I’d like to…”, to find out who I am at this age. Because one thing is for sure: the 40 (almost) year old me is nothing like the 21 year old me. So much so that I’m not sure if the two versions of me would recognise each other if they met on the street!
In peeling away all those layers, I have found such a desire to not only do all those things that I have been putting off, but to also change who I am, that I have started to make a Bucket List. Naturally, I had a few things in mind, but I wanted some fresh ideas too. So I looked online, and immediately burst into fits of laughter. For the first list I read was “Business Insider’s Experiences To Have Before You Turn 40”. I’ve already celebrated New Years Eve in a foreign city (I was in Los Angeles for the millennium), seen an iconic artist (I’ve seen B.B. King, Paul McCartney and Blondie) and been skinny dipping (don’t ask!) but as I read through the other items on the list, such as “travel across Europe on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express” and “bungee jump, sky dive or go white water rafting”, it was clear that I was holding a woefully inadequate bucket.
So, enough with looking for ideas amongst the lists of people who clearly have an unlimited budget and a private jet at their disposal. I’ll make my own list, one that suits the life of a busy writer with twelve cats and a husband. Here’s what I have thus far:
- Get a NICE hair makeover. I’ve already put the wheels of this one in motion by contacting a good friend of mine who is a colourist and stylist. I saw him today and all being well, next Tuesday he will cut, colour and style my hair. He initially said that he would make me beautiful, but when I pointed out that he would only have a day, we agreed that he would just do his best!
- Get a tattoo (or two). I intend to go to a studio in Breda in the Netherlands some time this week, to give them a couple of designs and, of course, to find out if I can afford just one or both of them.
- Write all the books and screenplays that I have ideas for. OK, I know this is a biggy, but I reckon with a decent enough coffee machine and a massive slug of discipline and determination, I may just about manage it.
- Move to Italy. Actually, this was suppose to happen this year, but the teaching job I had lined up fell through and so we weren’t able to go.
- Speak fluent Italian. This links in with #4, and I’m already learning, but not fluent…yet!
- Find a great prohibition era recipe for beer and make it. I love the prohibition era, and what could be better than to recreate the beer that clubs and speakeasies may have served.
- Meet Stephen Fry. OK, so this is perhaps the most unrealistic item on my list, but given that he is, in my opinion, the closest this modern world will get to Oscar Wilde, and that Wilde is my ultimate literary hero, it would be remiss of me not to include it.
And that’s where I’m up to so far. Yeah, I know it’s only seven things, but I will be adding more, I promise! In the meantime I’m going to concentrate on living my life as fully as possible, and every time someone nudges me and smiles and tells me “You’re 40 this year” I shall insist they buy me a bottle of champagne to celebrate!