So on Monday, Miriam turns twenty-six. Four days later, so will Ellyn.
Miriam: I know I should have qualms about entering my “late twenties,” namely qualms about getting old, but dating a thirty-something really changes your perspective. I really never worry about being old. I’m putting that in the life-long feel-good benefits box of my relationship.
The truth is, I’m kind of excited. I like birthdays. I like excuses to eat lots of meat at my boyfriend’s expense. (He’s a vegetarian. And he’s a grad student.) This is the one day a year I get to choose any restaurant, and he has to pay. Last year we got oysters. This year, well, haven’t decided but I’m hearing good things about this place called Animal…
Ellyn: Animal… I’m sure Bryan will love that place. I spent most of this week looking for birthday party venues in New York City. My first idea was Carnival, but the place collapsed because of snow. Naturally.
I have no other ideas, because, in case you missed the memo, New York is not my scene. None of it. My friend wants to have a joint birthday party, which is cool, but he wants to go to a club. I’m more of the beach-tiki-bar type. I don’t like to give up control and let Shaun plan it, because he’ll wait until the last minute and I’ll worry about it until then. Not to mention I cry almost every single birthday. Last year, we went to Rosa Mexicano and I cried in my margarita for some unrelated reason. But really I was already overwhelmed with attention and overly emotional because it was my birthday and that meant I was getting older…closer to thirty…and death.
Miriam: What death?? Please lady, ever since I was seventeen — and maybe before, because, please let’s not pretend I’m young that my memory hasn’t started to fade — getting older just made me feel better about myself. Validated. Like the first words coming out of people’s mouths when they asked me how old I was wouldn’t be “oh you’re so young, what would you know?” Every year I feel like maybe I’ll have less to prove, like somehow people will suddenly actually trust that I’m wise now. Which is stupid really, since I supposedly believe age is a meaningless number.
Ellyn: True. Of course experience and time gives you wisdom, so birthdays aren’t all bad. I’m not going to pretend I don’t enjoy presents and cupcakes and having an excuse to get all of my friends together. I agree that age is pointless. I just feel like it’s bad for me.
Miriam: It’s subjective. It’s about who you are, where you’ve been, how you talk. It’s why some of the best friendships you have are with people twice or half your age. The best story I can think to encapsulate what I mean, without getting too depressing anyway, is this: a couple years ago, a friend in her late thirties was asking me for guy advice, and when the conversation ended she turned to me, surprised, and said “you know, you’re pretty smart for a twenty-four-year-old.”
Ellyn: You’re smart for an almost twenty-six-year-old too, sista!
Miriam: You’re going to run into people you get and people you don’t get for the rest of your life. And a lot of it will have to do with age, but not necessarily in the way you think. It’s knowing the difference that counts.
Ellyn: Yes, but aren’t you even the least bit scared of age? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more and more wrinkles by the day. We can only have kids for another nine years. Most people are married by the time they’re thirty. I still haven’t moved to Europe or out of the tri-state area. I’m not a famous movie director or on top of my game. I’m making an average salary for my field. I just imagined I would be on my way to being the president by now. Maybe I’m only really good at school… but I’m not even in grad school yet. Epic twenties fail? Freaking. Out.
Miriam: DUDE! You have four more years. No failing. Not yet. Also, kids schmids! Maybe it’s unreasonable how little aging scares me. Yes there are some days when I don’t quite know who I am and or who I want to be. Yes I’ve got issues, yes they get in the way, yes they probably always will one way or the other. But I’m enjoying figuring it all out. On our own time. Like I said, birthdays? They pretty much just excite me.
Ellyn: I’m still asking Shaun to buy me Botox. Kidding. I swear.