The Big 39

For my parents, who continue to be great parents...

On Sunday, I turned 39. When I was in my mid-twenties, a college classmate told me I'd be amazing at 40.

"What am I now?" I asked. "You're fine, but at 40..." he replied. I rolled my eyes an shrugged.

In the early 90s I worked at Spencer's Gifts in the Phillipsburg Mall. Yup, I sure did. I probably made between five and six dollars an hour. I straightened racks of jet black t-shirts that said things like "Uh oh, the big 4-0!" and "Over the hill" and "I'm actually 19". Displays hung with tubes of candies labeled as meds for sagging breasts and penises.

It all seemed quite distant. To me, people aged 30 seemed incredibly mature.

At 39, I finally feel somewhat mature, having fumbled through much of my twenties, depressed and anxious, and then when I hit 33, the Jesus Year, as some call it, things ironed out a bit. I had a few photo exhibits, a gig for Harper's Magazine...

Hour long interlude as of the previous I wrote, Jared sounded the "Momma whistle". It's two note imitation of a blue jay call we've long used for communications. It has now become the nighttime Momma whistle. I usually get a warning, "where's Momma? I need Momma." Beren will interrupt Jared mid-bedtime story when he reaches some threshold of tiredness.

Jared and I change guards. Jared wishes Beren goodnight and to me he says, "I will see you soon."

I doze next to Beren who wiggles and chats. "Talk to me, Momma." And then, "I'm hot. My head is hot." I exhale and blow on his scalp. He requests "air" on his arms, elbow, back, no upper back, Momma... Soon we're dozing, until Jared comes into Beren's room, "Rachel?"

Thirty-nine. It's hard to stay up late, especially when I've been waking at dawn or earlier.