Over the past couple of years I am noticing something and the evidence grows. The truth is that as my crew and I circle forty, we are becoming a better version of our twenty-year-old selves. Our 20s were crazy, raw, and open. An endless flow of passion, need and honesty. Smeared mascara, cigarettes in the bathroom and diving into bed to cry with our besties. We were beautiful and fierce. Loyalty mixed with a healthy dose of attitude and confidence.
Then we grew up, graduated, and traded our individuality for black suits and steely perfectionism. Crying was for the car and the bathroom stall. We fell in love and married gorgeous men who satiated our hunger for completeness. Houses were bought, first babies dressed, scrubbed, and presented as another part of the perfect picture. Playgroup became another place to display our divined expertise as fully organic, baby-wearing geniuses. We pureed, sleep-trained, read books, and subtlety engaged in a little game called Upstage. During these years our parents could still parent us.
Forty soon approached and the gig was up. We became vulnerable again but in the best way. We have collected wisdom and scars from the cringe-worthy moments of our 20s bolstered by an unwillingness to make the same mistakes. We have returned to each other's beds full of wine-fueled giggles or flooded in tears. And it is timely because now we have new problems and need to hold hands tightly to be safe. Divorce, sickness, death, infidelity, aging parents, and kid worries have humbled us. Single friends are navigating dating in a world with texting and the Internet. The battle weary married folk counsel each other to keep our standards and expectations high because we are fabulous and deserve it! We need each other like we used to.
In our 20s, calling out a lazy or shady paramour was mandatory. As 40 comes calling we again have no time or interest in complacency. Fights and public scenes have been resurrected, as we are no longer willing to accept meanness or mistreatment. We have been there, don't need it, and are over it.
But this isn’t all about sadness and resilience. These years are a rebirth. Dares are back on and we are pushing our bodies physically to see what they can do. We have earned back the right to dress how we want. Double earrings have been purchased for the holes desperately concealed prior to corporate baptism.
Girls’ trips and weekends allow for an annual purge of insecurities, need for affirmation and provide a forum to release secrets concealed all year. We are back to skinny-dipping, pranks and dancing with salad bowl hats. Each weekend comes with an understanding that all information is to remain confidential and together we solve problems united in strength and empathy.
I think we look the same, even better, but the criteria for our bond has changed. We are no longer peacocks linked by a mutual love of dance music and vodka. Current besties emanate a vibe of warmth and safety. The truest have earned the authority to call out our bad decisions because they have put in the love. It is now clear why people see each other after twenty years and exclaim, “You haven't changed a bit!” The feeling released when two confidantes unite knows nothing of time.
I love these years. Nothing is perfect which is perfectly okay. I am learning to say sorry without any caveats and trying to truly forgive. Black and white does not really exist for me anymore. Life is a soft, grey area where the door is open along with my heart. I feel like me. Real, quirky and flawed.
Please know that letting the crazy of my 20s back in does not mean I want to go back there. A glowing young face on the street does not inspire envy anymore. Instead feelings of sisterhood are ignited as I pass by and make the silent promise to her that it only gets better.
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