Welcome, Samantha Stroh Bailey to the Age is Just a Number series. Not only is Sam the author of Finding Lucas, one of my favorite books, and a cofounder of BookBuzz (along with Francine LaSala and me), she is also one of my favorite people and among my best friends. She’s talking 41.
I am Forty-One. What? I’m Forty-One?
Samantha Stroh Bailey
Yes, it is true. I am no longer twenty, thirty, or even thirty-nine. I am now “in my forties,” which shocks me every time I say it. Not because I haven’t lived every one of those years, but because inside my head, I feel twenty-five. Silly, hopeful, and with my future ahead of me. Yet, entering my forties, for some reason, was not as painful as when I turned thirty.
I still remember the night I went to a dance club for my thirtieth. I loved this particular club because they served the most delicious (and free!) sandwiches after midnight. I often embarrassed the people with me by hovering around the kitchen exit at 11:59 p.m., but oh, those sandwiches were worth their mortification.
I was dressed to the nines, as I usually was in those days, in something short, fitted, and showing skin I will never show again. And as the music pumped and drinks were poured, I felt sad and couldn’t figure out why. I had so many wonderful things in my life then — love, family, friends, a teaching career I was still excited about, I was finishing my Master’s degree, and I had almost completed my first novel, something I had on my Things-to-Do-Before-I’m-Thirty bucket list.
I didn’t have any kids yet, and at the time, I didn’t want any. Oh, how that changed. But I digress. I thought thirty meant grown up. No more nights out dancing; no more sleeping in until noon; no more lack of responsibility. My twenties were over. A new age bracket. A new decade. But the same old me who was scared at how fast time had zipped by.
But when the clock struck twelve, I looked around, wiped my sweaty face, and smiled. Always a goal-setter, at thirty, I had accomplished so much that I had wanted to, and everything else was still attainable. Thirty wasn’t old. I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do. And I realized that my thirties was going to be a time when I could do anything I wanted. And I did.
I had two kids, who are the light of my life, and I was published for the first time. A dream I had held for so long. I wrote four more novels, one of which I put out into the world, and many more that I hopefully will. I started my own writing/editing business, which was something I’d imagined but never thought would actually happen. I finally had enough money to buy a house, albeit a tiny one, and I had my own car. Yes, these were all grown-up things, but I also kept my love of life, coffee-fueled energy, and enough naiveté left to be surprised by so many things.
Turning thirty and then forty taught me two very important lessons. The first is that I really have achieved so many of the things I have wanted to, and though not all of my years have been easy, I have gotten through them stronger. The second is that time ticks forward despite our wish to stop it or slow it down. We can’t. So, now eleven years after my thirtieth birthday, I want a hundred more years to spend time with everyone I love and accomplish the new items on my bucket list. But this will likely not happen. So, aging has taught me to appreciate every minute, every second, really, and go after what I want because it is not what age you are that matters. It is what you do with the time you have.
Samantha Stroh Bailey is an author, editor, and journalist. Her published works include the novel, Finding Lucas, and she is the co-editor of the fiction anthology, A Kind of Mad Courage, to which she contributed the short story, Hide and Seek. She is also the co-founder of BookBuzz, a live author/reader event held in New York City and Toronto. When not writing and editing, she can usually be found curled up on her couch devouring a book or watching television with a bag of chips in her hand.
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How Do You Know? – December 2nd.
What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?
On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.