A Decade till My ‘Scary Age’

When I turned 30 and hit the eject button on my life, somehow the idea that ‘forty-six is my Scary Age’ became a thing. At first it was a joke, then a shockingly accurate self deprecating observation that, as a grown ass woman, my life was a mess, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover. My ‘Scary Age’ made sure that even though my entire existence was crumbling around me (by my own hand, of course), I had plenty of time — 16 years to be exact — before I had to have my shit together.

I don’t know exactly why I picked 46. Forty-five was too round of a number, and too perched in balance between 40 and 50. Forty-seven somehow seems like it tips too far toward 50 (aka ‘middle age’), which, for this poet, is far too cliche.

Disclaimer: Now, I know A LOT of amazing women — women well into their 40’s and beyond. YOU ARE NOT SCARY. I’m not saying I’m scared to be your age. I’m not saying you should be scared to be your age. Seriously. I can see the shit show this blog post could turn into in a hot minute for all the people who don’t actually read it.

My scary age meant that by 46 I had to know what I wanted to do with my life, like really want to do — not what I should be doing, what everyone else wants me to do or even what needs to be done. My scary age meant that by 46 I needed to be living a life that is authentic, doing what I was meant to do, being with who I was meant to be with (or being alone), and knowing, after four decades, what hairstyle is best for my face and what my ‘style’ is when it comes to clothes — two things still grossly eluding me at 36.

With a life in tumult, and everything up for grabs, it seemed I needed a tiny light down the roadway that was far enough away to feel like I had plenty of time for it to come into focus, but close enough to keep me on my toes, knowing that far away is far until it’s not. And then it flies right by. Hello rear view mirror.

My scary age was 16 years away when I created it. Now it’s just a decade from here. After today, my 36th birthday, my Scary Age’s arrival lies in the single digits, which definitely makes its approach feel like it’s accelerating, or rather, I’m accelerating toward it.

This year, I was in Santa Monica shooting a job in the days leading up to my birthday, and took the redeye home to the east coast on the night of the 19th. After four days of shooting while simultaneously juggling a Bespoke pitch, overdue mockups & my kid texting me every ten minutes that he was ‘crying inside’ because he missed us so much, Francesco & I were entitled to an 8 hour stretch of down time on Venice Beach — my ‘Birthday Day.’ We took a nap next to the Pacific, ate the best fish & chips ever, and ingested more caffeinated beverages than any human should be allowed in an 8 hour window. We walked Abbott Kinney Road toggling between the emotions of feeling totally shitty that we couldn’t afford to buy a thing, and that it didn’t matter because even if I was swimming in money I wouldn’t spend $140 on glorified sweatpants. We finished the day with (what else?) the most amazing dinner a birthday girl could ask for.

Though my father in law texted me from the ‘future’ (aka NYC) to wish me Happy Birthday at 9pm PST, the actual arrival of my birthday happened shortly after takeoff in a hot, cramped United Airlines overnight flight from LAX to EWR. Row 31, seat E, squashed between two strangers with Francesco in an identical situation directly behind me. I got an email while boarding that the major investor meeting we were hosting at our studio the following day was cancelled (for the 2nd time), and tried to decide if I was pissed off or relieved. We would make a turbulent landing following the violent vomiting of the guy in 32C who really shouldn’t have eaten that burger & fries when he got on the plane. We’d Uber home in the pouring rain, schlepping bags into the house and collapse on top of the covers in our dirty-ass airplane clothes for two hours. After waking up in a panic that we were sleeping away my birthday, we grabbed a much needed ramen lunch, and were going to stop for coffee before picking up Ellis from school. Instead, my husband gunned it for the mall — knowing we had just enough time for me to score a new pair of pants and a t-shirt from H&M, which, after the travel day, made me feel like a new woman for under $50. Score!

Luckily in my world, time seems to compress itself and I can live lifetimes in the space it takes someone else to clean out their closet, making the era between here and 46 a century of possibility in a decade’s time. And though this was the first birthday ever that passed without me getting that ‘it’s your birthday’ feeling when I woke up that morning, I don’t underestimate the satisfaction of putting another year under my belt, and stepping one year closer to 46. ‘Life is good, life is hard,’ and I’m doing the work in spades. Though far from perfection and ever uncertain, my ‘Scary Age’ is definitely all joke and zero self-deprecation — now if I could just figure out that whole hairstyle thing.