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  • Writer's pictureaymexume

Nothing to declare: On turning 40

When I was younger, I was convinced that I could feel a shift on my birthday. That lasted right up to my 18th birthday. When I woke up on September 6, 1997, I didn't feel like an adult. Hell, I had no clue what being an adult felt like. Tuning 40 pretty much feels like turning 18: I don't know how this is supposed to feel. I don't feel the weight of the years. I didn't wake up with a surge of newfound wisdom. I honestly don't feel any older than I did yesterday.

This morning felt like any other morning. I was wide awake before my second alarm rang. My phone had been buzzing from all the messages I was getting. A voice note from the nephews, another from a godson. Wishes on Facebook.

Before I connected with anyone this morning, two things were top of mind: 1) My upcoming trip to Europe and Africa, 31 days to go! 2) What should I go with for my travel business: "boutique luxury travel" or "budget travel with a splurge". The musings of a middle aged woman... I've been waking up thinking about that business for the past few months. What a wonderful feeling!

Hubs mentioned trying to wake me up when he got home. He wanted to be the first to wish me a happy birthday. My cousin Pat beat him to it: she sent me a text at 12:01. He was the first to say it face-to-face; my mom was the second.   

A reader told me that he was looking forward to the birthday post this year. Last year, I wrote about some very personal ish. This year, there's no pressing subject I'd like to address. I have nothing to declare. 

As a Haitian woman, it's really hard to write about happiness. I didn't say that correctly. I could write about happiness for years. What I meant to say is that I don't think it's culturally acceptable for us to talk about how content we are. It may come across as boasting. Let me illustrate. When asked how we're doing, we typically answer "mwen pa pi mal" (loose translation: I'm not doing that bad). We say so even if we're absolutely happy. But we tend to hide this from others. It's as though we fear that our happiness will slip away the minute we share it with the world.

How does one wake up on time and still managed to run late? By talking to her mom and her husband, and lingering on social media, that's how! Thank goodness for good hair days! I don't have to waste more time. I'm out the door in record time.

The consensus among my female friends who turned 40 before me is that I'll have less f#ck$ to give. I ran out about a decade ago (I blame it on menopause). So, I'm curious about what this new decade will bring. 

I don't recall when I made it a point to live on my terms, but I have been for a while now. It wasn't a rebellion. It's not revolutionary. It came from the simple realisation that no matter what I do, people would have something to say about it. So, I might as well enjoy what I'm doing and be at peace with the choices I make. Choosing whose opinions matter. Being unapologetic about who I am. 

Reggaeton is playing in the car. Loud. My nose is buried in my phone, my head is bobbing. It's good to be alive. Hubs asks me how old I am. I'm 40. He says "I know. But what are we declaring this year? 25?". I laugh. I don't know. I may go with 32.

40 is the new nothing. 40 is 40. And I'm happy to see that age. I don't feel old, nor do I feel young. I just feel...alive. And I'm grateful to be. Fifteen years ago, I had decided to stick to 25. Today, I smile at my younger self. I no longer want to remain young in age. What I hope for is to remain healthy and to keep on travelling. 

I get to work. My to-do list is long, but I'll manage. My colleagues greet me. We chat. I'm content.

The rules I live by are quite simple. Ask and you shall receive. Be able to say to people's face what you say behind their back. Live on your own terms. Love isn't enough. Be loyal. Mind your business. Eat well. Dance often. Pray.

I'm happy with where I am in life. I'm proud of the life I've built. I've surrounded myself with people who love me and whom I love dearly. 

And if this comes across as boasting, so be it.

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