I have never been one to shy away from milestones in relation to age. I viewed turning 20 as finally being able to shed the demoralising teen tag. Thirteen is fine: 19 grates a bit, so desperate are you to be taken seriously.
“Look at me! I’m in college! I have a part-time job! I no longer live at home! I’m doing all of the things!”
While friends balked slightly at the thought of turning 30 or some refused to acknowledge it entirely, I raced towards it like a child who had guzzled an entire share bag of Skittles, washed down with a dubious can of energy drink.
By the time I turned 30, I was married, with two kids and a mortgage, a pension, health insurance etc. Tick, tick, tickety, tick. Early 30s saw me leave gainful employment, switch to freelancing so as to work around my children, navigate the murky waters of the healthcare system with an ill child and a husband who required spinal surgery and scramble to make ends meet: personally and financially. You can plan a life, but you cannot plan for life to happen.
I have a strong cohort of friends who are widely successful, yet I have never felt hard done by per say. I have revelled in their advancements whilst being content that we were able to stay afloat. Therefore, I look forward to welcoming the prospect of turning 40 in a few short years with the same enthusiasm that I have had for my previous decades.
Whilst I have no massive quibbles with advancing years overall, there have been a few surprise quirks which have caught me off guard. As the lyrics go, ‘I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller…’ Yes, I may never achieve the lofty stature of a professional basketball player but I’ve made peace with that. The appearance of fine lines does not irk me. Granted, I wish they would slow their roll at the immediacy and frequency at which they appear but que sera, sera etc. I have more greys, thickened areas of my body, chin hairs, sparser eyebrows, thinning lips and a strong gravitational pull of my skin southwards. In brief, everything is just a bit droopier nowadays.
However, the most recent development has left the physical aspects of aging for dust. Worryingly, I have developed a slight obsession with all things superstitious.
It began innocently enough; a few infrequent entreaties to the ‘Parking Fairy’ to locate me a free space. Anyone who has run the gauntlet of parking in town will concur she is a necessary advocate to have in your corner. (If you don’t know about her, I suggest you get familiar.)
But, therein lay the rub; due to her benevolent nature, I began to think that I would indeed be tempting fate if I continued to pay no heed to all those other little quirks I had previously scoffed at.
Enter the magpies.
You can tell me that logically my following statements have no merit due to the fact that there is a large tree over the wall at the end of the garden which is Magpie Mansion. You can tell me… but I won’t listen! Because they are clearly trying to communicate the future to me, OK?
The arrival at the conclusion that they were indeed the bearers of messages from another dimension was compounded by an entirely accurate and substantial piece of evidence known the land over. The refrain of, ‘One for sorrow, two for joy…’ Listen, I didn’t make the rules people. The birds did.
The appearance of a solitary, monochrome, feathered foe now caused me to raise my left hand in salute while yelling, ‘Good morrow Jack!’ I’m dubious as to its effect upon him as it was frequently followed by a phone call announcing a death or illness in the ensuing days. Alternatively, the arrival of a duo normally preceded some fortuitous spell of luck or bounteous tidings.
Until the day they shacked up en famille. Which resulted in seeing a dozen of them all sitting alongside each other on the back wall one morning. The blood drained from my face as I yelled at the glass.
“The rhyme only goes up to 10! What do you want from me? What?”
Needless to say, there was no reply. Which is just as well really as it is enough of a cross to carry explaining to people that I have fortune-telling birds resident over the wall. It could well be a step too far advising that they also talk.
I am hoping that this development of the aging process is fleeting. Or that it does not exceed past the birds. I did, however, catch myself eyeing a crack in the footpath the other day…