Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Other Side of 40

It seemed like a good idea to just go ahead and get the cold and sore throat from Z this weekend. Our minutes together were ticking down quickly and it felt as if one of us (me, probably, since I was the one with the plane ticket and penchant for over-the-top comparisons) was on death row waiting for a pardon from the governor that wasn’t going to come, so why not? But now classes start in three hours, the cold has lost all of its romantic appeal, and I’m wondering how my students will hear my scratchy voice today.

Other things you should know: security has been breached and Z has discovered the blog. I spent a day at DEFCON 1, re-reading all previous posts to see what secrets he’d learned. My face would turn red when he would reference something, like, “Apparently my laugh should be made a ring tone.”

I’d be a bad secret agent. For instance, if I didn’t really want him to read the blog, why would I have told him I kept one? And once I told him, why would I give him breadcrumbs big enough to find his way to it? This is one of the great mysteries of being me, the shy exhibitionist.

So this is me on the other side of 40. When I started this, I never would have guessed how delicious the flavor of life is on this side of the great divide. Had I known, I would have turned 40 years ago.

The day itself was perfect (and I’m not just saying this because the Object of My Affection will probably read this). In the history of birthdays, this one couldn’t be improved upon. It started with an apartment festively decorated by Z, a phone call from my mother, and excellent presents opened in bed. From there, we moved the party to downtown Seattle where we ate at the Cheesecake Factory, and via the Monorail, we visited the Experience Music Project. The building itself is more fascinating than the exhibits inside, though we did produce sound effects to accompany a Disney cartoon and learn to play “Louie, Louie” on the guitar. We had artfully decorated hot chocolate at a cafĂ© across from Pike Place Market, and then went to see “Borat.” Z treated me to a delicious steak at Ruth’s Chris’s. Eventually, we ended up at Kell’s, an Irish pub in Post Alley where all of Seattle was celebrating the Seahawk’s victory and (short-lived) promise of glory in the play-offs, though I pretended all were celebrating my birthday. Though the majority of people at the bar were in their 20s, it did not make me feel old, just lucky to be with Z and listening to music I love. When we got back to the flat, we shot off confetti bottle poppers and decadently drank champagne in bed. I’ll stop with the narration there in the interest of modesty. To recap, it is the first birthday ever (including all childhood birthdays—I was a weird kid), where I did not lament the passage of time. Though I am unwilling to share Z with friends and others turning 40 this year, my advice to them for a similarly happy birthday is to be with a person who makes their teeth itch with desire and do exactly what they want to do, all day long, even if the neighbors complain.

The days following my birthday are a blur of happiness and general contentment. We saw some movies, ate some meals, took some walks, and did some shopping. I can’t help but think the residents of Seattle are glad I’ve left. Z and I behaved in ways that would have made me throw up just three months ago. We held hands walking down the street and made other people walk around us. We kissed at stoplights and grinned at each other stupidly for no reason other than we were happy to be in the same zip code for a few days. After one kiss while waiting for a light to change, Z said, “I hate people like us.” I felt only marginally apologetic for our public displays of affection, though it did cross my mind that perhaps I should have been handing out the suppositories I’d been given for nausea at the beginning of the trip to all who were forced to look at us.

I’m paying the price now. I cough. I blow my nose. I try to remember that less than 48 hours ago I was delighting in the simple things in life like a $5 dollar bottle of champagne or Z’s new-used and slightly hideous sofa from Craig’s List or the way my Thermolite mitten fits perfectly in the palm of his Darth Vader-style glove. Instead of beautiful cups of cocoa, I must content myself with mugs of gritty Swiss Miss, warm memories of a decade started right, and potent cough syrup.

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