Old Enough to Know

I think the birthdays that end in -5 feel different than the ones that end in -0.

The -0 birthdays seem to mark a new regime, a changing of the guard, a new club you get to join. But the ones that end in -5 seem to feel like the ‘hump’ of a decade. You’ve made it five laps. Five more to go. No grand hoopla here. Just a Dixie cup of water as you run past.

Within the next year, I will turn 35. That feels like a turning point birthday, a big one. Perhaps that’s because I remember when my mom was 35.

Or perhaps it’s because I vaguely remember my middle school girlfriends and I saying to each other, “Does this look good? Or do I look like I’m 35?”

(Dear 13-year-old Tricia, the 35-year-old you is 20,000 leagues more beautiful than you want to be right now. And pegging the pantlegs doesn’t look good.)

I wonder when I will feel old enough to know what I have learned.

* * *

You don’t know what you don’t know when you’re young. How could you?

People who are older nod sagely and say you’ll learn — about love, about marriage, about failing and falling down and getting up and trying to stagger on toward success, about work and children and what really matters, in general and to you. It’s not, they’ll say, what’s on your business card.

I recall hearing this message constantly when I was younger, and thinking that I was getting older as fast as I could. In retrospect, this seems a bit of a shame as well as a vainglorious task.

You’re like a cake when you’re young. You can’t rush it or it will fall, or just turn out wrong. Rising takes patience and heat.

~ Anna Quindlen

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