Tomorrow I will be 40 years old. It doesn't seem possible to me; I feel like I'm sixteen on the inside, and I've just been playing grown-up. My mom says the same thing when her birthday rolls around each year. But tomorrow, older people will say I'm still a kid, and younger folks will be amazed that I can still feed myself. (What? You're not on MySpace or FaceBook? Duuude.)
But reaching the big 4-0 means I have officially earned the right to wax poetically about 8-track tapes, record players, television with only three stations, safety-free playgrounds, and school handouts with smudged purple printing from the mimeograph machine. It means telling whippersnappers about being five years old, and my mother sitting me down in front of the television to watch Nixon's resignation speech, saying, 'This is history. Remember this.' And I do. I also remember watching President Carter deal with the hostage situation, and wondering if the world was coming to an end. Or staying up late on a Saturday night to watch an Elvis movie, and always falling asleep before the credits rolled. Or when Pong was the next big thing, but it couldn't compare to a sunny day outside during summer vacation. Writing that first poem. Winning that first contest. Getting that first clip. Roller rinks, disco queens, parachute pants, poodle perms, my off-the-shoulder Flashdance-style sweatshirt that had to be left on the shoulder during school hours, freezing during the winter in my first apartment, having a Buddhist nun come along and pay the heating bill when we couldn't--so many memories for such a short span of time. And a few questions along the way, such as:
When did the music of my teen years start turning up on classic radio?
Why am I now afraid of sneezing or belly-laughing in public when I'm not close to a bathroom?
Why did I hate my body so much when I was a size 6? Why am I more confident now looking like the Goddess of Willendorf?
When did booties and thongs quit relating to the feet, moving higher up?
Isn't there more between the life stages of getting caught without undies and wearing purple?
As for that last one, I intend to find out.