Tomorrow is my birthday. That day when you mark another year of your life by feeling disappointed that you feel exactly the same as you did yesterday: no older, no wiser. There are no dawning revelations, just presents; cake; and, these days, copious amounts of wine.
There are several events in my life that have filled me with the woe that I am, in fact, (like everyone else) slowly ageing. Some have coincided with birthdays: the day my salary went up to the minimum wage; the day that the Office for National Statistics stopped counting me as a young person; getting closer and closer to the arbitrary dates I set myself to complete major life events.
Some have not:
– The day I first put “journalist” down as my occupation, whilst signing up to a new dentist. “This is weird,” I thought. “I actually have a proper job.”
– The day I selected how much of my pay check I would like to pay into my pension.
– The day I saw an advert for kids’ clothes in my magazine and suddenly realised I am the target age group they were trying to reach.
– And then there was last night. My boyfriend was laying on the bed, waiting for me to finish my pre-bedtime routine, which includes several repeated trips to the toilet. After the final of these excursions, I walked into the door way of the bedroom and said, with the triumph and glee of a child who has used a potty, by himself, for the first time: “I…” (pause for dramatic effect) “Have found…” (and again)… “A grey pube”.
This, of course, was a lie. It wasn’t grey at all. It was white. And straight, and fine. In amongst the mess of dark curly hair was one that stood colourless and erect. “Look at me!” It seemed to exclaim. “I am your first grey hair.”
I might be deluding myself here. It might not be my first. But good luck finding any on my head under all the hair dye.
But after the initial excitement wore thin, I suddenly felt that rising sensation that always seems to hit you rather unexpectedly. “I’m getting old,” I thought.
And with it came the realisation that I’m ceaselessly tumbling towards thirty, an age that is meaningless in itself, but is the symbol of everything you thought growing up was about.
Thirty, is the age by which you know who you are, what you want, what you’re doing with your life. You’re well on the way to a successful career, you feel comfortable in your own skin, you’re probably married, probably planning for kids. You’re a grown up.
Except, as you become aware of your inevitable move towards the big 3-0, you realise all of this is crap. You might be a little bit more self-assured than you were a decade ago. You might be on your way to achieving some of those life goals. But you’re not a grown-up.
This morning, I plucked out that white hair. He slid out of the hair follicle without a fight because he knew that he might be my first but he wont be my last. Removing him doesn’t change the fact that I am getting older.
I’m not going to wake up one day and know exactly who I am, what I’m doing and the point of my existence. This is me, and I’ll have either get used to it or change it, because no matter how many grey hairs pop out around various points on my body, I’m still going to wake up in the same childish head.
Now, where are my balloons?