About 15 years ago while an undergrad at Mason Gross, I was told I'd be "an awesome forty year old."

"What about now?" I asked of the grad student. No adequate answer.

I was studying photography. He, performance art. Could linear communication be expected of two art students?

A decade and a half pass, and here I am on the eve of forty. My mom invited us over for a birthday dinner. "What would you like me to make?" she asked.

"Pot roast," I replied. "If that's a pain, burgers on the grill is good, too." Pot roast historically has been my birthday meal. My other favorite Mom-cooked meal is chicken, potatoes, and carrots roasted in shortening. Pot roast tops the list, however.

Dial back 20 years ago or more, I worked at Spencer's Gifts in a mall. Yep, remember Spencer's? They're still around.

I wore a purple name tag. I sorted size small through extra-extra large shirts that said, "Uh-oh, the Big 4-0" and "Over the Hill". I tidied boxes of gummy candies labeled "Sex Booster for Old Goats" and boob and penis shaped pasta... black light posters, Skid Row patches, and 24 carat gold jewelery, too.

Forty seemed an eon away. I hardly wanted to think of it. Spencer's made it pretty tawdry. I had a vague feeling I might catch something from those boxes of raunchy jelly beans.

The calendar rolled on, and here I am. Forty.

I'm not feeling over the hill. I'm not feeling particularly "awesome", either.

"Just fine" might sum it up. I live just one ridge north of where I grew up. I'm married and have a young son. I pass by the church where I was confirmed a couple times a week. We occasionally go to the playground of my grade school. I like to stop in the mall to grab some cheap clothes at Old Navy, right where Spencer's used to be.

I think "just fine" is just about right.