I turned 32 on Wednesday and it was charmingly low-key. I worked from home to mark the occasion—well, it was coincidence, really; my new company has a fairly benevolent policy towards Work From Home Wednesdays, and I figured, given the choice, that it would be more fun to wear my slippers on the day of my birth than not wear my slippers—and man, I do not know how I did that for six months. It was lovely and quiet and I was highly productive, of course, but I was also dying to talk to someone by about hour three. As much of an antisocial homebody as I proclaim myself to be, I also have to admit that I really do like me some idle office gossip about why the big conference room has been booked for three days solid, you know? I like the camaraderie of having co-workers, and the hustle and bustle of being somewhere other than my living room. Plus, my new company has a cafeteria with amazing food, and on the day I worked from home, I made the mistake of looking at the menu. Red velvet pancakes, people. I missed the red velvet pancakes on my birthday.
It feels peculiar to be 32, because I don't think I've ever imagined myself being this old. It's not old old, I know—not the existentialist freak out of OH MY GOD I'M THIRTY AND NOW I'LL NEVER BE A TWENTYSOMETHING NOVELIST (PS: MY EGGS ARE WITHERING), nor the slightly more subdued ehhhhh, thirty-one is just a little extra thirty, and that turned out fine—but it feels pretty surreal all the same. Thirty-two? Don't people who are thirty-two have, like, toddlers and stock portfolios and a wholesome discipline around moisturizing every evening? I didn't even manage to buy the right kind of milk last week because the label was confusing!
Still, show me a person who doesn't still feel about fifteen in their own head and I'll show you a person I probably wouldn't want to have a beer with, and that's fine, really, because guess what? If you're still having birthdays, you're still alive, and that's a pretty good bargain, if you ask me, particularly since you also get some cake thrown in. Actually, when you put it like that, it sounds amazing. So let me get this straight: I get to stay another a year in a world where chocolate-covered potato chips are actually a thing you can buy in a store, plus I get a whole day where people sing to me and give me presents and write nice things on my Facebook wall? LET ME LIVE UNTIL A HUNDRED, THIS IS A SWEET DEAL.
When Sean came home from work in the evening of my birthday, I was on the phone to my mother, and I didn't understand why he was ringing the doorbell. Perhaps he forgot his keys, I thought, and so I opened the door to find a pile of presents wrapped in shiny gold paper just sitting on the doormat, a giggling husband—manly giggling, he would want me to clarify—hiding around the corner. We brought the presents upstairs and I unwrapped the first two—truffle salt from Dean & Deluca, and a FitBit so I can track my steps and sleep; both things I'd wanted for a while—until I got to the last one, which looked curiously like a tire.
"This looks curiously like a tire," I said to him. "Did you wrap up a tire?"
I unwrapped it to discover that he had, in fact, wrapped up a tire.
"Ah," I said. "You wrapped up a tire. That's....uh....thank you?"
"Yes!" he said. "You said you always wanted a---"
"A tire swing!" I exclaimed, suddenly understanding. "I get it! I always wanted a tire swing!"
"Exactly," he beamed. "I'm going to make you a tire swing. I've already researched how you do it, and I know how to make it the really swingy kind."
And all that time I'd spent as a teenager, wondering what kind of man I'd want to marry when I was older, came sharply into focus: the kind of man who'd build me a tire swing in the back yard for my 32nd birthday. You don't know it then, of course, or at least you aren't really able to explain it. But that's the one you want, I'm telling you. That's the one.