Today is my 45th birthday, and it recently dawned on me that I’m one of those people who still gets excited when it’s my birthday. In fact, I’m throwing a little party for myself and decided to leave off the “no gifts, please” line that I used to include with my invitations. Yes, this year, I want presents. Lots and lots of presents.
Still, despite my excitement and genuine glee at continuing the journey through my forties, I’ve found myself a bit shocked by this new number in my life. I’ve never been one to dwell in the past or look to the future. I’m quite Zen, actually, rooting myself pretty firmly in the here and now. And with no children to measure the passing of years against, time has been pretty irrelevant to me.
So when it was brought to my attention that my next milestone birthday is 50, it dawned on me that time—specifically my time—really does fly by all too quickly. How is it possible that while I’ve been paying so much attention to the details of my life, I haven’t given much thought to the progression of my life?
I’m not saying that any of this is a bad thing. It’s just surprising. The truth is that I feel happier, and more enthusiastic, energized and adventurous as a 45-year old woman than I ever did in my teens, 20s or 30s. I feel liberated; free from the illusions that previously kept me from becoming the me that I am today.
Of course, it helps that I’m hitting this milestone in 2010 and not, for instance, in 1990. That’s when there would be a significant difference between being a 45-year old woman in the U.S. and being a 45-year old woman in Paris. In 1990, I would become invisible—to American men and marketers.
Fortunately, we 40-something women are now seen as sexy on both sides of the Atlantic. The French no longer have the distinction of being the only ones to still objectify older women. Thanks to the likes of Michelle Pfeifer, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Demi Moore, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Monica Belluci, Juliet Binoche and Julia Roberts—all actresses over 40—we middle-aged gals are still seen as “do-able.”
Still, I’m far more likely to find a Frenchman flirting with me than an American fella. In fact, I’m not quite sure that American men still flirt. A few weeks ago, while at a bar on South Beach, I saw a very handsome man looking at me with a smile. After a few minutes of shared glances and more smiles, this man walked over to me, leaned in close and whispered in my ear, “Sweetie, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re wearing two different shoes.” He began to walk away, but before he got very far, he turned and added, “But they’re both fabulous.”