Thursday, January 25, 2007


Today, I am twenty-nine.

Truthfully. Twenty...nine. Not thirty—-but not twenty, either. Honest.

Happy Birthday to me.

I tell the truth about my age. If not, which years would I erase? Year three when I learned how to read? Year twelve when I submitted my first short story to The Atlantic Monthly? (it was rejected: year thirteen).

Year fourteen, I went on pointe in ballet class. Year sixteen: dislocated my knee in ballet class. Year twenty-two: was hit by a drunk driver. Year twenty-six: loved the wrong one. Year fifteen: was fifteen.

But to take out those years, even the hard ones, to say I was twenty-five or twenty-seven now, would be to negate year three and a half when my sister was born, year nine when my brother was; to forget year twenty-four when I taught special ed, year twenty-seven when I moved across the country, year twenty-eight when I moved back. To lie, to shave off a year here or there, would be to lie about something I lived through, something I survived.

Recently, The New York Times published an article arguing that all the expensive, designer lotions and creams and cleansers we buy don’t exactly do anything. Really, all our skin can use is sun block, plain and simple. I’d like to propose an addendum. We can also use truth, truth about hardwork and truth about experience.

I look forward to being thirty, just like I look forward to being sixty and ninety. I look forward to my tenth novel. I look forward to my fiftieth wedding anniversary. I look forward to defying expectations of what a woman "my age" looks like and is capable of, just like I have been doing my entire life.

I earned these years. I lived through them. To deny them would be to deny a part of me, a part of my experience, a part of what made me today, all the years of my life. Year twenty-two, my book came out. Year twenty-eight, I married. I’m twenty-nine, and next year—-believe me—-I’ll be thirty.