So, I turn 38 today at 7:24pm. Thirty-eight years ago, on Friday, the 17th of January, 1986, my mother’s bulging abdomen was cut open, and a little baby was cut out. Well, I actually wasn’t *that* little of a baby. I was told that even though I was three weeks premature, I was actually six pounds, six ounces in weight, so fairly average. Thirty-eight years later, here I am, living in New York City with an Australian / naturalized American husband, a 2-year old daughter, in a white ivory tower.
Although I’ve never mapped out my life the way some ambitious individuals do, there are some things that I always thought I wanted for myself: an exciting, career-ladder climbing career, a bi-coastal lifestyle where I had a home both in SF or LA and in New York City, world travel, a family to call my own (in the form of an egalitarian husband and a son and daughter). My career, to be frank, has not been terribly exciting, nor have I ever reached the level of climbing the corporate ladder as I once naively thought I would. I think I genuinely threw in the towel on that while at my last company, though subconsciously, it could have been a little earlier than that. While I’ve certainly had a lot of privileges and fun travel during my career, I don’t think I ever really “made it” in the sense I would have defined it back in my college years. I do not own any home. I have no home on the West Coast, and the place I live in here in New York City is rented. But I do have world travel and a family to call my own, just with one less child than I’d ideally like. And things are, overall, pretty good. I have somewhat of a bi-coastal + bi-hemisphere lifestyle with about a month of the year in Australia, and I never really thought I’d have that, ever. It’s been fun.
So, while I don’t have the life that I semi-envisioned for myself, I’m actually okay with it. And in some ways, life is better for it. That ambitious career I envisioned for myself? It likely would have been at the expense of my relationships, time to myself, and sleep. It likely would have meant less travel, less time with people I love. I’ve made peace with the fact that I don’t always get exactly what I want, when I want it, how I’d want it. Part of getting older is supposed to be about getting wiser, about being more comfortable in one’s skin and more confident to be who one really is. I don’t need to offer an explanation about my life or any of my life choices to anyone. While many in my generation are chasing impossible ideals and some elusive definition of “happiness,” I think I’m just content to live in the life I have and try to make the most of what I already have.
This week, we had a meeting with an attorney to help with our estate planning and wills. There’s really nothing more sobering about getting older and having more responsibility than planning for the day when you will be dead, or worse, if you and/or your spouse die prematurely and leave your minor child behind, orphaned. So many questions arise, and some of them are just not fun to think about, even borderline painful. But that’s also part of getting older: thinking about all the hard questions and decisions that need to be made to take care of your remaining loved ones… and your assets.
In two more years, I’ll be at age 40. And in this country, age 40 is considered “mid-life,” which means I will be at the halfway point between being born and eventually dying, assuming I stay in decent health. And that is another sobering though: the fact that in 40-plus years, I may no longer be here, and I hope I will leave some legacy behind at least with my child, who I also hope will far, far outlive me.