We officially kicked off our college gang’s round of 40th birthday parties this past weekend. Yup – all of the 1968 babies, including yours truly, will cross the big 4-0 threshold this year. Frankly, I’m surprised that it took until August for one of us to have the balls energy to throw a party for ourselves. I know I will have the gumption come November – but until then I’m so happy to sit back at the tender age of 39 and watch my closest friends (and hubby) march to the top of that hill in front of me.

I don’t want to turn 40. I was totally cool with 30 because I longed for the respect that came with being in your thirties, as opposed to your twenties. I’m not sure what comes with being in your forties but my friend Anne reminded me last night that when I turn 50, I will really wish it was 40. Thank you, Anne. It’s a good point.

But this weekend it was all about my friend Kip – who still looks like he is 20 30. Really. Take a look at these pictures. Here is a picture of Kip and me at my 21st birthday party.

Kip and Em 21

Here we are at Kip’s 40th.

kip and Em 40

The only thing Kip lost these last few years is the gold chain and that groovy 1980′s shirt (which he was slightly horrified to have re-surface in these vintage photos). I, on the other hand, have gained a few things I wish I hadn’t.

Lately, I have been more than a little cranky about getting older. Maybe it’s because the brothers are getting older and I can’t stop that process or maybe it’s because my body doesn’t look move function like the well-oiled machine it once was. But I think it’s time to stop comparing myself to 21 year olds. Especially my 21 year old self.

You see the friends in the first picture didn’t know squat about life. We had no idea what we were going to do with ourselves, who we were going to marry, whether we would have children, where our paths would lead; and any mistake that we made up until that point was easily remedied with a beer and shrug. Happy and clueless. But relatively empty.

The friends in the second picture know so much more – can you tell? We have charted our own courses, fallen in love, had children (two brothers for Kip as well), established careers, made new friends, lost old ones. We know generally what life has to offer in terms of opportunity; we also know what to be scared of. We lived – and lived well so far. We have banked great memories. And we can still dance to New Order, Erasure, and Technotronic.

So the next time I feel envious about the 21 year olds with their flat tummies, smooth skin, and ability to consume large amounts of alcohol without having to sleep on the bathroom floor, I’ll remind myself of all that I have gathered, embraced, and let go in the last two decades.

I wouldn’t trade it to be 21 again.

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