Part of me would love to be thirty again.
(Specifically, my ass would love to be thirty again.)
But then the rest of me remembers how exhausting it was.
Your twenties are often spent searching and second-guessing. And your thirties? Finding, nesting, populating. Perfecting. It’s the perfecting I wish I could do over. (Irony: I want to fix my perfectionism because that would be soooo perfect.)
By the time I hit forty, I knew that Christmas cards couldn’t compete with Christmas mornings. That having the right furniture meant nothing unless you had the right friends. All those years I worried people might laugh at me? I should have been looking for people to laugh with me.
I want a do-over on all the hours I went shopping for things to hold other things.
If I could be issued a refund, please, for the days spent pondering paint chips, I would use them to go out and consider the colors of the stormy sky and bending pines.
Light matters. Scent matters. Fresh flowers. Fresh air. All the rest just has to be replaced every five years.
And the kids, the school drama, the herding cats days. Sigh.
If I could get back all the time I spent trying to make my daughters smile simultaneously for the camera, or sit still in their color-coordinated clothes, I would use it to tickle them. To hula-hoop. And to fingerpaint under the shade of a tree. I would stop trying to keep them clean, and just keep them happy.
I know now it doesn’t matter what you wear to back-to-school night. And . . .shhhhh . . . don’t tell anyone, but . . . .it doesn’t matter if you go to back-to-school night.
For years, I avoided valet parking at restaurants because I was worried sippy cups and petrified french fries would fly out when they opened the door. Now, I let them sail and tip accordingly.
There is so much pressure now. Ways to live, eat, cultivate. Virtuous paths that require more of women, at a time when other things are scarce. We cling to jobs we can’t afford to lose. We learn to plant vegetables and when we get too good at it, we have to learn to can. We get up early to ride pretend bicycles up pretend hills. In addition to jumper cables and quarters. . . we have to remember to have a dozen freaking re-usable grocery bags in our cars.
It’s too much. It’s too much. These are not the years to dig in. These are the years to let go of the rope. To let the potato chips fall where they may. To let the organic cookies crumble in your happily un-made beds.
Nap, I say. Read a book. Take a walk. Hold a hand. The light is waning, always. Curl into it.
Kelly Simmons is the author of the novels STANDING STILL and THE BIRD HOUSE, both from Simon & Schuster. Learn more about her books here. Visit her blog to read more: Kelly A. Simmons.
She also live-tweets The Bachelor and other high culture @kellysimmons.