Monday, July 23, 2018

Woman Over 35

There are certain birthdays that matter. The last of these for me was 27, aka the age I became a madame, in a couple (but not all) senses of the word. 18 and 21 blend together, as both involved wandering around the East Village with friends. 30 made no great impression - as I recall, it was one of those Princeton summers when no one was around, and I marked the day itself by driving to H-Mart in Edison and buying, among other groceries, a whole fish.

But 35! That's the one, isn't it? Women under 35 in one category, those over that age in another. In a matter of days, I will be a Woman Over 35. A not-young-anymore woman. Which would probably feel a whole lot more momentous if I'd spent 27-34 under the illusion that I was, during those years, young. But for so many reasons, not so much? I was never under the illusion that everyone thought I was ten years younger than was actually the case (for every flattering carding, three 'ma'ams'; who was I kidding?), nor, I suppose, that 30 was supposed to look ancient so how odd that I at 30 did not. (30 looks ancient to children, but not to fellow adults of any age.) Still, the famous signs of aging start... at birth, really, so while I'm sure new ones will pop up that alarm me at various points, it would be absurd to think you could reach 35 without having yet encountered any. 

Also: 35 is already well into the age range where one is only a young woman according to people (men) who are themselves so far from young that maybe you're not young, either. And by that standard, every age at least a decade under that of the typical male lifespan is young, if you want it to be. (A 50-year-old is a mere slip of a youth where 70-year-old dudes are concerned.)

Also, also: Most of the "35" scaremongering is directed at women in life situations other than my own. Whether 35 is too old to get a man (yeah, no, and no, not all women even want one in the first place!) isn't my immediate concern, given I've been with my now-husband since 23. I'm more aware of that other issue pertaining to 35-ness, but (see posts below) one can rest assured it is not in this very moment occurring to me that female fertility declines with age. In any case, the woman who reaches 35 shocked that the likes of her could possibly age past 20, in a way that impacts her body or is perceptible to those around her, is either a myth or a rarity. The whole women age thing (presented, inevitably, as though people who aren't women don't) is sort of the gist of much media aimed at women, so it's unclear how any of us would reach even 20 oblivious to it.

And yet: 35 feels like a thud. Despite feeling ancient since forever, I've doubtless been benefitting (or suffering??) from youth in ways I haven't been aware of. Like, maybe I thought I knew, but give it a few days and I'll realize I didn't have a clue.

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