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Ever since I was 22, I’ve been feeling like it’s all-downhill. That sounds illogical, I know. At 22, there's more in front of you than there is behind. But logic and being 22 mix like oil and water that thinks it knows everything.
I just couldn't help it. It was like life had hit a high note and the soprano had left the building.
It was a little while later that I realized the ages of 22 through 26 were going to be definitively, empirically, without a doubt, the best years of my life. I lived in Manhattan. I worked on Madison Avenue. I made enough money to go out to trendy bars and buy my share of rounds for friends whose names I can’t remember now. I bumped into celebrities in Starbucks. They filmed movies on my block. Anything was possible.
At 25, I went to grad school. I borrowed magic money I could never conceive of paying back and my job was only to learn, to share ideas, and to write them down. I ate French fries with gravy and drank chocolate milk shakes at diners at 2 am without worrying about the calories. I hadn’t quite yet figured out that smoking was bad, and drinking didn’t lead to the all-day hangovers I experience today (after three, okay two, measly beers.) I sat in coffeeshops, wrote deep thoughts in notebooks and tried to appear mysterious. And succeeded. I met friends I still have today and lovers I still tell stories about. I had summers off.
Then I turned 27 and moved to New England, where the weather and the people are sometimes colder than seems necessary. I got a real job, a 401(k) and a student loan repayment plan. And as predicated, it’s been all-downhill since.
But then again...I got married last year. In Italy. On a terrace over looking the Mediterranean Ocean. To a guy who everyone falls in love with about 3 minutes and 12 seconds after meeting him. Or maybe it's 3 minutes and 30 seconds. But less than 5, I’m sure. We got married on a Thursday at 4:30pm. (That is absolutely the coolest thing you can possibly do on a Thursday at 4:30pm.) It was just the two of us and two dear friends and a gorgeous May afternoon.
The day before the wedding, we arrived in Positano, which is beautiful even under buckets of rain – a different kind of wild, restless beauty. We climbed down the steps through the tiny ancient village, even the dirt we picked up on our shoes was romantic. We checked into our extravagant hotel room, snuggled against the lashing rain, then went down to the hotel restaurant, ate fresh fish and drank wine made right there on the Amalfi Coast - on a hill we could see out our window. Then we stopped by the church, the one with the famous golden dome that lets you know you’re in Positano. My husband-to-be thought I was crazy, because I’m not Catholic and hate the concept of sin, but I got down on my knees and prayed for the sun to shine on our wedding day. I think I may have even crossed myself (which I think is a sin if you’re not Catholic.) When we woke up in the morning, I felt the sun shining on my eyes before I opened them. And it was as if I never doubted it would.
So 33 then? 33 and all-downhill after that? Maybe this will be the one that sticks. It’s a double digit. A nice-looking number. It’s a third of my life (if all the rumors about red wine and antioxidants making us live to be 99 are true.)
These days, I’m staring 35 in the face and thinking yep. 33. That was it. Doesn’t get any better than that. Of course, just yesterday I was sitting on the sofa next to the instantly loveable husband, who put his arm around me as I pet my dog whose fur is as soft and delicate as a dandelion you can blow on. That was pretty good, too. If that’s on the downhill, maybe it’s not going to be such a bad ride.