I like to go along in life thinking I haven’t aged a bit, but then reality slaps me in the face. Like when I realize that I have a child who’s nearly 5 or that I’ve been with the same guy for so long that it’s getting scarily close to half my life. But nothing prepared me for the late-night ride on the lightrail that led to StillADancingQueen.com.
It was 1 a.m. on a Friday night, and my husband and I were headed home after date night (I hate that term) at Comedy Works. I was mildly drunk, on vodka and lack of sleep, and a group of 20-year-olds hopped on board. Four of them had obviously just met the fifth, so their conversation is random and weird. I’m annoyed when they start talking age and the perky one exclaims she was born in 1992. (Insert eye-roll here). I’m more annoyed when I realize that 20 years ago, I was sleeping in a loft above my dorm-room sized mini-fridge and eating tubes of Ritz crackers for dinner because I was too shy to ask someone to join me at the student union.
More quick drunken math: birthday no. 39 looms just less than a month away. Just like that, I’m in a tailspin, both annoyed by the mindless chatter of this little group of youngsters who think they are sooo deep and yet also envious as hell.
I try to focus on the good life I have, how much more confident I am now, how I really look better than my younger self (the one with wrinkle-free skin and shiny hair). I try to emphasize in my mind how people are always shocked when they learn how old I am (really they aren’t just faking it. I’m a woman, I know faking it). Are you buying this? Because after a long night and five drinks, I sure didn’t.
That night on the train, I desperately wanted to revisit my 21-year-old self—the one who Aqua Netted her poodle hair and donned a half-sweater in the middle of January in the Midwest so she’d look hot at the bars; the one who sucked down sweet-tarts like water (what the hell was in those drinks anyway?); the one who shook it all night to “You Shook Me All Night Long” (no, I’m not almost 50; it was the Midwest, so the music was a decade behind). Who was that girl? More importantly, where was she?
I don’t really want to be her again, but sometimes I miss her. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that I’m a nearly 40-year-old woman with a darling preschool-aged daughter, a husband of 12 years and an established career. Sometimes, all I really want to do is drive to the nearest bar, drink myself silly, dance my ass off and make-out with strangers. Part of me still and will always be a dancing queen.