This week is my birthday. It’s a special birthday because it’s the first time in my life, that I’m the age an adult was when I was a child. What I mean is that I have a memory of an adult in my family telling me how old he or she is, and that’s how old I just turned. But as a child, remember: all adults were old.
Worse: today they are even older.
It was my aunt and she told me “33 years old, like Jesus”. At the time, I must have been 5 years old and I had no idea who this Jesus was who had a famous age.
I said okay.
Later I realized that Jesus had spent a dirty thirty-third year and that my aunt was not very original. The “33 years old like Jesus” is a bit like the “Merry Christmas” of the 25th, the “see you next year” of the last days of December and the “there is no more season” of the baker.
In short. Thirty-three is the first year that my age has surprised me.
As a child, we can’t wait to grow up. We are so eager that we count the half years and we rebel when our parents say we are six years old when we are not at all: we are six and a half. I don’t know what we are running after at this age. We are in a hurry, it’s obvious, but of what exactly? What can we be expected to do?
And then, when do we stop trying to take another year?
If we wanted to divide the world in two, choosing the criterion “those who like and those who don’t like their birthday” could be an option. I, for the most part, like my birthday.
In the third grade, I was a boarder in a college. Every night we had study hall in the same class that we had been in during the day and would be in the next day. So the week before my birthday, every night, I would write on the board the number of days until my birthday. Every morning, my teachers would find that we were 6, 5, 4, 3 days away from my birthday. On my birthday, they had no choice but to wish me.
Later, there were cell phones and you could count how much you were loved based on how many messages you received. It was silly and shallow. It was called adolescence.
And then came the majority. The baccalaureate, the licence and the identity card that we now find easily in our bags, when we arrive in front of the bouncers of nightclubs. Eighteen years old, the passport to freedom.
After that, things follow one another. Twenty years and those who had said to us “Noyeux Joël” tell us that it is the beautiful age.
Twenty-five is a quarter-century crisis because it is the first time that an age can be reduced to a lifetime, although 100 years is a bit ambitious. But twenty-five is the age of ambition.
At twenty-six, we make the terrible mistake of thinking we’re old, when we have our whole life to live.
Thirty is a bit of a hard pill to swallow. It’s been three years since we gave up on the SNCF discount card. At this age our parents already had us, sometimes for several years. We buy wine basing ourselves more on the number that constitutes the price than the one that makes us a promise of a high alcohol level.
Then the years add up, like deductions. We know ourselves better. We know that gluten gives us stomach cramps. But we don’t listen to each other. We still make each other “coquillettes-demi-baguette” with Coke from a can.
The time accelerates. We may have a child who has arrived and to whom we give a lot of our time. As a result, we don’t have any more. Or we think we don’t have any more until the second one arrives.
Thirty-five is ten years older than twenty-five, and at twenty-five, we’ve already had an identity crisis, so there you go.
And life goes on. Forty years. Who remembers their parents’ fortieth birthday and the blow to their morale that day? Ambition is getting wiser too. Forty years is half our life. Eighty years, then. Twenty years have just passed since we were 25.
We don’t know what’s next. What we do know is that all people who grow old, regret a little their youth but not the life that comes with it. So we leave for the adventure of the years that await us. Age is a beautiful country for a journey.
Article written by Sophie Astrabie.