On 40

Dear J—

Forty isn’t one of those fun decade milestones that makes you think about what’s coming in an eager sort of way. Here’s roughly my thought process on each birthday of that sort, so far:

10 (Cheney) — Wow I’m ten already!
20 (Berkeley) — Can you believe I’m now double ten? One more milestone to go!
30 (San Diego) — I regret everything I meant to have done by now but haven’t. Yet. 40 (San Mateo) — Ugh. Another ten years already?

I woke up this morning hearing another voice in my head; I’ll call this one the dry voice or Mr. Keepin’-it-real. The deflatinator, with another well-timed oh-yah or ya-right and you-wish. I’m putting him in charge of things for now because it feels like there’s things that have to be done and it’s well beyond time that I stopped playing at being an adult and actually functioned like one. i wonder about these things, too, since I was born the year my dad turned forty, so I’ve finally reached half his age: there are now more years with me than without, so congratulations on that (adds the new voice: uh-huh). I love and admire my dad, being surprised daily with something that he’d done I hadn’t previously considered but wow, did that turn out to be a good idea.

Let’s see. Lawn care. Building a van’s interior. Preparing meals and washing dishes daily. Car washing. Window washing. Storm windows. Knowing what to do with a basement (apparently, storing things and converting it into living space when needs dictated). Bringing your whole family out of China and investing in them. Investments in general. Pushing your kids enough to make them hungry. Taking them back in when they’re too hungry. If that’s not adult then …

And yeah, it all started at forty. Or before, but that’s not the point, or maybe it is; it’s not too late to begin again. Or to make the right choices, even if you don’t know how they’re going to turn out.



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