Yesterday, July 24th, I turned 43. I am enjoying a middle-aged body, middle-aged loneliness and the desperate full-sprint to get some retirement savings in place when I only had a few thousand in an old 401k until I started socking it away a year ago when I got my current job. Today my retirement total stands at that same few thousand I had a year ago (and the entire planet knows why).
But at least my life has the newness of a one-year marriage and a one-year job, both of which I am still happy with. Bob and I celebrated my birthday with dinner last night at The Stained Glass Bistro in Evanston which had excellent food AND excellent service. That second one is rare, especially in a restaurant as busy as that one was last night. We sat near another birthday table and right next to another couple about our age. After I blew out the candle on my dessert, they wished me a happy birthday and mentioned that they were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary.
"Congratulations!" I said. "You're way ahead of us. We've only been married a year."
"Really?" the woman was surprised.
"Yes," said Bob. "First time for both of us."
"Late bloomers," she responded, warmly.
"Yes, definitely," I agreed.
"Are you having children?" she asked me, while the husband talked to Bob for a minute.
"Oh, no," I said with a dismissive wave of my hand. She accepted this answer with a sympathetic nod. It didn't even occur to me to ask her if she had kids, I guess because once you ask someone that, they think you want to hear about their kids and I usually don't.
I guess people ask stuff like that all the time: they hear that you've recently gotten married for the first time and want to know if babies are on the way. Does it happen as much if they know it's your second marriage? Someone else has to answer that one.
But the way this woman asked about children seemed different from the usual inquiry. I get an attitude sometimes that women think I should have children and are bewildered by my lack of desire for children. Maybe sometimes it's envy or surprise because it never occurred to them to not have kids. But this woman, who has been married for 15 years, just seemed curious about whether a 43-year-old newlywed (because, of course, I also told them my age) is still hoping to raise a family. And she received my answer with complete acceptance. I appreciated that.
My restaurant district partner husband gave them free drink coupons for one of his restaurants as we left, as an anniversary gift. They see it as generosity, he sees it as marketing.