35 years old | young – there’s some kind of finality in age when a 5 or 0 completes the phrase. It feels like it weighs more than the numbers before – a medal around my neck – HEY! She’s 35! She’s a bonafide adult; even though she looks 22 and as tall as most eleven year olds. I don’t always know how I feel about adulthood. I love the independence and freedom but the decision making and responsibility is a pain in the freaking neck. I was talking with a friend about our past life, or what feels like a past life. We’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years so experiences get muddled and feel surreal, and at times, we question whether they actually occurred. [also – I don’t feel old enough to say I’ve known ANYONE for more than 20 years – that’s just ridiculous!] In this conversation we said things like, “life was so much easier back then…why can’t we rewind and go back…we were funnier/prettier/thinner….” In the blurry flashbacks it certainly seems like those statements are true, however, at age 21, 23, 26 my life wasn’t necessarily any easier; It’s all relative. This, to me, defines what it’s like to be a real bonafide, down and dirty adult…
“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
My 1,820th week of life was pretty fantastic. It was spent in the company of some of my most favorite people, doing things I LOVE, laughing till I cried, trying new things, being completely out of touch with the world, and smiling for no reason what-so-ever. I received thoughtful notes from those near and dear and felt pretty special. I have people in my life who love me for exactly who I am and celebrate that…which means, I am perfectly OK being 35 – even with a few well worn bald spots and saggy skin around the eyes – it just means, I’ve been made real.