I just painted my nails, and had a weird thought: this is the last time I'll be painting my nails as a 34-year old.
It's not exactly the first (or last) time I have that thought today. A little later tonight, I'll be washing my hair for the last time. Earlier today, I went to work for the last time. I had my last lunchtime grilled halloumi wrap. I checked in for my last flight. I have these thoughts (or thoughts just like them) pretty much every year, as if it made any difference exactly how old you are when you wash your hair.
Come Saturday, two days from now, I'm going to be 35 years old. Wow. It's got me thinking about lots of things. I don't typically attach too much attention to age, but right now I'm thinking everything from "was a grayish Petal Pushers the right nail polish shade to go with?" to "BUT I STILL DON'T HAVE CHILDREN!!!"
So much attention seems to be attached to this number. I can't tell you how old I was the first time I heard that 35 is the age when women's fertility starts to go downhill, but I can tell you it seemed like a long way off at the time. And that's not even the only thing that happens: your metabolism goes down (sigh), your bone density decreases, your skin loses elasticity, your hair thins, and - as I just delightfully learned by reading that linked article - your pelvic organs may start to "sag." Fantastic. My uterus is sinking.
I'm still working out how exactly this still feels like a Happy Moment to me, but I think it's quite simply this: there's specialness in even the small moments. Every little thing can be significant in its own way - whether it's a coat of polish, a bite of something tasty, a step on a path. I feel like I've tried - really tried - to be more in the moment at 34, honestly I have. And yet here it is reaching its very end, and I still feel like it's somehow passed me by. I should have done more. I should have tried harder. I should have whined less. I shouldn't have been afraid.
So maybe 35-year old Joëlle will be a little different. Maybe she'll be a little bolder, a little grittier, a little more confident. Maybe she'll clench those sagging pelvic organs and that de-elasticized skin and ship-shape those weakening bones into action. Maybe one year from now she'll be looking back proudly, thinking, "that person was in there all along."
And maybe she'll wear bright red nail polish.
Joëlle, 34 and moving forwards