reflections on the eve of middle age

I am told middle age starts in your mid-forties, and your mid-forties start at the age of 44. So I sit here before you less than twelve hours away from leaving my youth behind and becoming a middle-aged woman.

It is not how I feel – although, I’ll be honest, I am not sure how middle-aged people feel in general. My mother, who just turned eighty-something last week, tells me she still feels somewhere around thirty – and quite frequently acts it. It seems one’s internal age-clock slows down or simply switches off after three or so decades, whilst one’s body continues to age.

I had some difficult teenage years, and graduated university a serious, earnest, slightly (not so slightly?) geeky twenty-year-old who had found some kindred spirits to play with and finally felt accepted and loved by her peers. My twenties were spent getting used to living in a foreign country, moving around a lot, having to make new friends over and over again… and slowly becoming the extrovert you see before you.

My thirtieth birthday was spent in the exclusive company of women, at a ladies-only ball in the Cafe Royal in the West End of London. Surrounded by many of my closest friends, ball-gowned up and wearing a rather fabulous pair of designer shoes, I looked as good as it got in those days. But I still felt slightly fraudulent, as if some grown-ups were going to tap my shoulder at any moment and tell me to go home to bed.

The following decade was the best fun of all. Living in India, then Australia, then India again, I discovered spangly flip-flops and myself. Twenty-first century London life was the icing on the cake, and I had it all: I lived in a big vibrant city with a man who loved me, I had a great job, a brilliant circle of friends, and a supportive family, and I had enough money to enjoy it all.

Life in Australia has more or less continued all of that on the other side of the world. Although I miss the northern hemisphere contingent of family and friends, I have been reunited with others here and made some new friends for life.

So, with a glass of wine at my feet (a Heathcote shiraz, since you ask), pizza cooking in the oven and a quiet evening of reflection ahead, I look forward to another year, another decade, another phase of my life. For myself I wish a happy continuation of the usual three things: something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. For the world I wish a small step or two closer to the Monty Python philosophy of life:

Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

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