Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Self!

So, I'm 37 now.

Last year we had a great big houseparty for 40 people, with a bartender, a big cake, and all the furniture pushed back to the walls, rented glassware, the works. We went smaller this year, a dinner for 14 at a new restaurant just around the corner from here. The smaller scale gave me more of a chance to reflect, first and foremost that I am truly blessed in my friends, and next that Pynchon and I have been here in Small City for six years, and have cobbled together a community of friends from three different workplaces, some neighbours, friends from before who find themselves here, and all the partners of same. People in their 20s; people in their 50s, and a good sampling in between. That feels good.

I was thinking also, naturally on this sort of occasion, I think, about, well, me. 37! I guess I am who I am going to become, mostly, and I'm intrigued by the continuities and discontinuities of all these years of Mimi-ness.

Different? I'm much more confident now than I used to be and this has the paradoxical but welcome effect of leaving me freer to be quiet, to hang back, to listen. We ENTJs, when nervous or insecure, tend rather to become bossy or strident, but a happy ENTJ can, I'm glad to report, can just sit back and cool out. God, it's nice to not always feel compelled to put myself in charge of things that, frankly, don't really need or benefit from hierarchical leadership.

The same? I've never had much of a social filter, or a well developed sense of decorum. I'm 37 and I still cannot prevent myself from gleefully responding to a compliment on my dress that I bought it for 29$ at Zellers. My mom visibly flinches in my inner mind: "Just say THANK YOU. No one needs to KNOW that, Mimi!" It's not demurral or false modesty--I'll agree that yes, I look great, but isn't it just a kicker that the dress is from Zellers? And so CHEAP? I look somehow younger? It's the bra! Raise the boobs 3 inches, take 10 years off. (Can you hear my mom, now?) I just have never seen the point of hiding the man behind the curtain, Wizard of Oz style. And I still don't, I guess.

Weirder are the combination same/differents, two of which I have been ruminating on today.

Same / different 1: I have grown into my face and my body--they're not much different than they've ever been, really, only now my stage of life has caught up to their promise. I was the kinda kid about whom adults always remarked that I was 'old for my age'. Not mature, certainly, but somehow ... not channeling youth. No button nose, no chubby cheeks, no ingenuous credulity. Instead, I was all sarcasm, always, all strong nose, piercing eyes, and sharply angled cheekbones. On an eleven year old, or even a 20 year old, the effect can be jarring. Helps one get into bars underage, but otherwise jarring. In my 30s, I see that button noses and blooming cheeks do not look so appropriate on my demographic anymore. Suddenly my face is just right, a canvas best able to hang my subjectivity from. It's strong and dramatic and sophisticated, where before it was precocious and disconcerting. At 37, I don't mind looking Dietrich-esque in ways I did when I was 16. I still have a great big nose and very square shoulders, but it kinda works now.

Same / different 2: I have grown into my personality, my character--in my teens, you know, I had that not uncommon delusion that I was Something Special, Marked For Greatness, Without Fault but nevertheless Fantastically Misunderstood. In my twenties, by contrast, I became excruciatingly aware of my own faults. The fault-finding was kinda sweeping; it was a decade-long orgy of self-loathing, really. Amazingly, at 37, I find I'm somehow becoming able to see my own character with a clear eye ... and love myself anyways. Yeah, I'm not really good at playing ponies for 3 hours in a row; I'm always looking for a little escape, something to read. But I do play ponies happily and with total focus for 20 or 30 minute bursts, several times a day, and for someone like me, that's pretty damn good, really. Yeah, I'm naturaly kinda judgy and over-rational, but I bring a lot of integrity to my job as a result. I'm still really sarcastic and biting by nature, but it's developed over time into a more sophisticated and age-appropriate wit that is not unwelcome by others.

I'm growing into myself, it seems. And I'm learning how to be flawed and happy at the same time. Huh.

If that means I've got to take some wrinkles along with insight and self-acceptance, it's still a pretty good trade.


Patti said...

Happy Birthday Mimi.

Your mom would be seriously disappointed in me. Spike and I just got back from a week's vacation in off-season Myrtle Beach, where we went outlet mall shopping...

I got 5 pairs of pants (jeans, khaki's, cords) at the Gap for $8.97 each!!!!

And I've told EVERYONE!

Omaha Mama said...

I'm glad you had a HAPPY birthday! I think you are fabulous!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Happy birthday! Love this post.

Debbie said...

Happy Birthday!

Beck said...

Happy birthday to yooooou!
And I seriously know what you mean about faces. I was one weird looking little kid but my face WORKS for a woman in her mid-30s - and there's a certain kind of dainty prettiness I often see in teenage girls and never see in adult women and it occurred to me one day that they have the sort of faces that do not LAST.
So hooray for us! We drew the long straw and didn't know it until now.

Kyla said...

Happy birthday!!! I think I will like my 30's very much.

the b in subtle said...

happy birthday, Mimi! great post and i wanted to say...soooo lovely to have you "back". missed you and your posts.

kittenpie said...

Happy birthday, Mimi!

You KNOW I am the same with dresses/shoes - it's the, "No! It's even better than you think! It was a BARGAIN!" that is tough not to crow about, I think. I do love a good bargain.