A week ago yesterday, I turned 41. It was a Tuesday. Why does it seem like birthdays always fall on Tuesdays? It fell on Tuesday. I got up at 6 am at my mom’s house, put on my Dad’s underwear*, and went to work. My own mother forgot to wish me happy birthday before I left. (No hard feelings. I don’t remember that stuff either.)
I worked all day. Got home at 5pm or so. Started my period. (HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-TO-YOU-HAVE-CRAMPS-AND-BLOOD-AND-WANT-TO-EAT-YOUR-YOUNG-AND-CHOCOLATE-ITS-AWESOME.) Turned back around and got back in the car to go to the Japanese steakhouse, because that’s what you do when you are middle-aged and it’s your birthday. I’m not saying that it didn’t taste good, but sometimes after a long day at work, you are tired and you just want to have your cramps and wine in peace without someone throwing shrimp at you or singeing your eyebrows.
It was actually really nice, and my husband gave me a lovely necklace and my kids were good. (Okay, one was kind of a jackass, but he at least contained it until the end.) So, we came home, and the kids went to bed, and then Toddler and i decided we should watch “This is 40.” I totally didn’t get what people liked about this movie. Other than Paul Rudd is cute. That wife’s voice makes me want to jump off an overpass after about ten minutes. It didn’t really matter, because I ended my birthday by promptly falling snoringly dead asleep in the middle of the movie. Todd woke me, i wiped off the drool, thought “Huh. So this is what 41 feels like,” and went upstairs to fall asleep in my own bed in order to be able to start all over again at 6 am the next day.
So, I woke up and kind of felt. . . a letdown. I felt old. There’s a lot more to it than suddenly turning 41 and feeling old – aging parents, bad stuff happening, marriages around me on rocky ground, a general feeling of being tired all the time, change, change, and more change, and not having DONE anything with my life – more than I can recount here. But i woke up feeling old.
(Happiest wake up feeling old song ever.)
So, I finished out my week, with this . . . oldness. . . hanging over my head. I wanted my sister to have drinks with me on Saturday. She didn’t feel like it. God, I’m so old, i can’t even get anyone to go have a drink with me on a Saturday night. So, she says, “You and Todd should go.” And todd heard her, and suddenly, he is hellbent on going to see Camper Van Beethoven that night. And i was like, okay, i guess I’ll go. And my husband, when he decides he wants something, he is damn well gonna go after it. So, he managed to procure one precious ticket, which he just about wrested from the jaws of a giant EAV possum, and we went to the Earl, thinking, well, at least you have a ticket, and if I don’t get one, you can just take a cab home. But for some reason, i got out, and I sat at the bar, and i thought it would be a good idea to hang out there while he went to the show. So, i sat there, and I only had a couple of drinks, and I talked to some guy who knew about ten people that I know, and I talked to a few folks I hadn’t seen in a long while (we used to live in the n’hood, you will remember), and then I talked to some young people from out of town on a road trip who had just been to the Clermont for the first time. One of them thought i was a Crip. This was the funniest thing i ever heard. I actually think he might have been serious. And then the show was over (never did get a ticket) and then suddenly, i was heading off to the house of a friend of my friend Terri, and then we were drinking beer in a basement and listening to records. We were all of an age, and we listened to Beastie Boys and The Pixies, and the Meat Puppets, and I had to listen to this TV on the Radio song:
No idea why i love that song so much, but it always makes me feel good to listen to it. And one of the guys there, whom I didn’t know, told me as he was leaving that he thought i was “a rocker” and maybe he was making fun of me, but I took it as a compliment.
And then there were four of us, and I’m pretty sure that Terri and Todd were completely ready to go, but me and the vinyl guy were geeking out on Bowie, and we listened to my favorite Bowie song twice in a row:
And I got home at 4 am. And then it took me like two days to recover, but it was totally worth it. I didn’t really feel old anymore. I felt tired, but not old.
So, I already had plans to go see Ty Segall with my sister on Tuesday. I have turned into a person that listens to music all day long, at home or work or in the car, but who never has the time or energy or money or babysitters to go see music live anymore. I had mentioned in passing that I loved him and wanted to see him live, and that we should go, and then she kind of twisted my arm. I don’t usually go out and see bands on school nights. It’s just too painful to stay up til 1 am, and then get up at 6 am and then . . . think . . . for a paycheck. (It’s really the getting up that’s hard – not so much the thinking.)
So, there I was, downing coffee at 8 pm on a Tuesday night, one week after my 41st birthday, in hopes of being able to stay up until 10 or 11, or whatever time these young whippersnappers go on stage these days. And then we got there, and . . . wow. It’s been a long time since i’d been to see a “current” band. I usually go see bands, and there are some young people there, but it’s mostly people in their 30s and 40s. Let’s just say that I almost cried at how good the people watching was. You know when we were 20? I am pretty sure we were stupid. We looked stupid, we acted stupid, we acted cool, we thought we were hot shit. We were not. We were stupid.
I was amazed at how they all looked so much like people i knew. People I knew in 1991. You know. When they guy I was going to see play was about five. There were people wearing shirts for bands whose albums were released before they were born. There was a guy wearing silver sequined pants. The only things different were that you couldn’t smoke inside the establishment (Terminal West, by the way, which is a GREAT venue – i thought it was nice and the sound was great, and it was a really good size. Kind of 40-Watt-sized, actually.) and that they had craft beer. In cans. Tons of craft beers in cans. And when you’re 41, it ain’t that easy to pick out what beer to order when you can’t see the cans across the bar. Also, no bottles? In my day, you drank out of bottles and chanced the glass breakage! Oh. And in my day, we just watched the damn band. I wanted to shove everyone’s iPhones down their throats, what with all the video and camera flashes. Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPhone. But it stayed in my pocket.
No, seriously. All I could think was Everyone. Was. So. Young.
Then I ran into this guy, and i was like, oh, awesome, you are old too, and he was like, “you’re never too old for rock and roll!” and i loved him. Also, he was like ten years older than me. And he was right. Because as soon as the music started, I was super happy, and it was loud, and it could have been 2013 or 1993 or 1963. I wasn’t tired any longer, and people were stage diving and it was so fun to watch, even though they just seemed a little . . . weak. I mean, it just seemed very safe compared to ye olden days. It bordered on polite. Someone through a beer at a guy in the band and Ty was like, “Please don’t throw things at us; we aren’t a punk band.” And he was so polite. Mom me took over a little, because i really don’t want my babies being thrown around over concrete floors, and these kids, the ones around me, who were born when I was like 20? They have moms too, and I might have gone to college with them. But then I decided that hey, my sister was there, and she’s a nurse, so we were all fine.
It was something like this, but a lot less people.
And then I let go and i rocked out. I did that awesome thing where you watch live music and you just get lost, and sometimes it’s so loud that it almost affects your vision for a few seconds. I had forgotten that if you hold an empty beer can to your chest while the music is loud that the drum and bass will make it vibrate in your hand. And I smiled. I couldn’t wipe that damn smile off my face if I had tried.
And after a while, it ended. And I was sad. But also happy.
And I did not feel old. I remembered what it was like to leave a show all sweaty and feel the cool air outside, and feel complete and total release. I remembered that I can sleep when I’m dead. Or at least the next night. I felt like I should go see more bands I love. I felt like maybe I should learn to play guitar. I felt inspired to write again, because I’m happier when I write.
When you grow up, your heart doesn’t die. It just gets really tired.
And then I was thinking tonight, I am old. I am tired. But I should write. Because I did fall asleep on the couch on my birthday. And I did rock out last night. And Saturday night. And I don’t get enough sleep. But I need to seek out the things that make me happy. I need to love them and nurture them, even if I feel too tired. You know. To keep my heart from dying.
And so that I will remember, when I’m 60, that this is what it is like to be me now. That this is my 41.
*Follow me on Twitter, and I make more sense.