(Whatever the hell that means…)
This past Saturday, I turned 37. Living in Los Angeles, and spending most of my adult life as an actor, I feel like I should always be lying about my age. No one ever admits their actual age here in La La Land, preferring to answer the age question with, “Well, I can play 30-35.” Sometimes it’s accurate. Sometimes you wonder what mirror people have been using.
At a party at my house last weekend, a group of my actor friends got into the Age Discussion. We’ve all been friends for years, so we all told the truth…I think. When I mentioned by 37th birthday was in a few days, one of the guys said, “Really? I thought you were like, 30…” This instantly made me happy. I am kind of obsessed with my skin care regime, and phobic about sun exposure and wrinkles. So, yay! Winning!
But then I felt embarrassed for feeling so happy. I mean, I should be proud that I “look good” for 37. But I also wish that I lived in a society - hell, in a CITY, that wasn’t scared to death of growing older. I wish that wasn’t part of my brain. But when Groupon offers you 80% off botox every single morning (is this just in LA? Please tell me it is…), it’s hard not to find yourself wondering, ”Do I need this?” For the record, I haven’t purchased that Groupon. I hope I never do.
Being a 37-year-old first-time Bride has been very…interesting.
There was the appointment at the big-box major chain bridal gown store where I was asked by my consultant, “Is this your first marriage?”. And the debate I participated in online at Weddingbee about the “etiquette” regarding older brides wearing ball gowns. Apparently, we should all be sneaking around town, getting married quietly at the Justice of the Peace, and wearing a sad, plain sack to skulk unnoticed out of the “Old Maid” category.
Well, I say, “No thank you!” to all of that bullshit.
I’ve been in a rather reflective mood this week, as birthdays are wont to do to a person. And ya know what I’ve been thinking about? All my past relationships. And how glad I am that they brought me to this place in my life.
See this girl?
That’s me, at 24 years old. Here are the things I cared about, in order of importance: Getting cast in a broadway show, going to the gym, working my bartending shift, going to see good theatre, hanging out with my friends, and boys. Boys were last.
At 24, when my best friend (and current MOH) called me to tell me she got engaged, my response was, “Oh my god, why?”. (The fact that she still loves me after that oh-so-awesome response says a lot.) I just couldn’t comprehend that life choice at that time. I had bigger fish to fry, so to speak. The idea of “settling down” was just the most foreign thing to me. At 24, I had just come off of 2 1/2 years of performing in touring shows. I was living out of a suitcase. I kind of loved it. I missed my “stuff” but I got to see the whole country – a few times! I wouldn’t take back or change those years for anything. And now, at 37, my only regret is that I wish I would have stayed in NYC a few years longer. But what good is regret?
I think back to my serious past relationships, and although I can recall the good, I can see how, if I married any of those guys, those marriages would have ended in messy painful divorces. Actually, if I’m being honest, the idea of marriage with any of those guys scared the crap out of me. At my 28th (I think it was 28?) birthday party, my boyfriend took me outside to the parking lot to give me my gift. He revealed from behind his back a small bag from Tiffany’s. As he handed the bag to me, I blurted out, “No.” I didn’t even know what it was, but the idea of that bag containing an engagement ring made me so nauseous, that before he could even say anything, I said, “No.” I don’t even think he noticed. Or, if he noticed, he was nice and didn’t ask me about it. Turns out, it was just a necklace. (Whew…)
At 37, I finally feel ready to make the kind of committment that makes a great marriage. At 37, I know myself much better. As a younger woman, I would frequently find myself a few months (or years) into a relationship wondering, “Where did I go?”. The longer I stayed with the wrong man, the more I’d lose myself. His interests would become my interests. His dreams would become my dreams. Except they weren’t my dreams at all. Where did my dreams go? I wish I could say I did this once, but sadly, this was a pattern that repeated itself a few times. I’d like to think this is just a young woman’s problem, but I see some of my friends living this right now. I can proudly say that this has never been the case with me and Bob the Builder. We have a lot in common, yes, but our differences are supported and encouraged by each of us. If I don’t write for a few days, he always mentiones it. “You should be writing!”, he says. I’ve honestly never been with someone who is so supportive of anything I dream up – from this blog, to running a 5K, to learning how to bake homemade bread – anything, really. He even eats the (sometimes awful) results.
Being an “older” bride has been a little easier in some regards. After all, at this point, I’ve been hosting and planning parties for 16 years. Even in my tiny Upper West Side apartment, I would host a Tony Awards Party every year, and cram people into my tiny living room. At 21 years old, I was happily making guacamole in an apartment where only two people could stand in the kitchen at a time. 16 years later, I know how to throw a party, organize a guest list, and add in special details that make the whole event sparkle just a little bit brighter.
I wish I could tell you that being an older bride has made me immune to self-doubt, and low self-esteem, but I can’t lie to my fellow brideys like that. Maybe those feelings are a little diminished by age – when I turned 30 I pretty much stopped caring if people liked me or not (a totally awesome part of growing older) – but they don’t go away entirely. I am still working my ass off (literally) so that I can feel amazing and toned in my (ahem) ballgown. In fact, I can tell you that part actually sucks. Working out to lose weight has gotten so much harder. I have to work 200% harder just to see the same results I saw ten years ago. But it’s not impossible. Just makes me want to achieve my goals even more, even though now it means waking up at 6am to go work out.
So, here I am, at 37 years old.
In 136 days I will be a wife. I wish I had some awesome words of wisdom about being an “older” bride, but really, I don’t feel like an older bride. I just feel like me. In my brain, I’m still 32-ish. Only making better choices. With a much better partner in crime.
I will never know what it’s like to be married at 23. And that’s fine by me. We all make our choices, set our priorities, and work toward our goals. If I had changed even one tiny thing in my life, I probably wouldn’t have even met Bob the Builder. And I would have missed out on all this happiness. So, no. No regrets. No do-overs for me.
I can tell you this “older bride” is wearing a ballgown. A big ivory ballgown. And a giant cathedral length veil. With bling! I am having a big celebratory wedding – decorum of an “older bride” be damned! I waited 37 years for it, and I’m living it up!!!
After all, it’s the only wedding I’ll ever have. May as well go big or go home.
Any other “older” brides out there getting all the feelings from the asshats in the WIC? Oh sorry, was that too much? Any other over 35 brides breaking “etiquette” and doing whatever you want? (There. Thats better.)