When I was a few months into dating my girlfriend, we celebrated her birthday together for the first time. For me, birthdays have always a pretty understated affair, marked by a single special dinner and maybe a cake. Not so for my girlfriend. For her, birthdays are an event...or more accurately multiple events involving as many different activities and as many people as possible. I was somewhat stunned that first year by the number of celebrations that a single person could have in honour of her birthday.
It took me a few years to realize that this was something that I could use to my advantage, but now that I'm three years into the relationship and a few days away from my fortieth birthday, I know to milk it for all it's worth. I'm not having a single birthday this year; I'm having a birthday month. Dinner with friends, dinner with both sides of the family, an Escape Room with other friends*, and birthday tapas with the girlfriend. I will be celebrated!
And, inevitably, I will be a bit melancholy. Because there is something about turning forty that feels...old. Forty marks the end of the decade in which I went through medical school, residency, and fellowship. It marks the end of the decade in which my father died. It appears to mark the end of my single life and of dating new people**. Realistically, it probably marks the end of any chance that I will have a biological child. While I am hopeful for good things in the upcoming decade, I can't help but feel a bit wistful for the things being left in my thirties.
How does one let go of so many things that made them who they are?
*Have you ever done an Escape Room? Puzzles and friendly competition all in one? Yes! Love them.
**If my girlfriend reads this, which she only seems to do when I write something she would find remotely bothersome, I can just hear her saying "Appears to? What does 'appears to' mean???"