By the time you read this, I will probably have turned 35. I say probably because, of course, there is the possibility that I will be killed in a freak baton twirling accident between now and then and not live to attend my own birthday party.
Should that happen, it is my sincere hope that I become posthumously rich and famous and finally able to pay off my student loans.
I can’t say this is how I always imagined my life. I thought I’d be on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine with my husband Scott Baio by the age of 18. Things are clearly terribly off track.
Beyond my Mrs Scott Baio, Mrs Michael J Fox, Mrs Johnny Depp and Mrs Joan Jett fantasies, I had big plans for myself. None of them involved living alone with two cats in an apartment so messy I can’t have people over, being medicated daily to enable getting out of bed in the morning, owing money to everyone I know and a bunch of really cranky people I don’t know, or the perpetual feeling that the sands of time are slipping through my hourglass and making a mess all over the floor.
I imagined myself with a family by now. I remember once, in my 20s, asking my dad if it upset him at all that I was queer. In true greatest-dad-in-the-world fashion he assured me that it didn’t.
“I guess I’m a little disappointed about not having grandkids, but that’s not the end of the world,” he said. I remember laughing at him, pointing out that I was queer, not infertile, and that kids were definitely on the agenda. The idea just seemed like something for the future, when I’d got everything else all sorted out.
As I approach this birthday I have come to the realization that I am probably never going to have kids.
I’m okay with this. It’s just that I think being a parent is the most important job in the world and requires at least some semblance of stability and a general sense of having things sorted out.
I am very far from having things sorted out. I am so far from having things sorted out, it would take the light from sorted out a billion years to reach me.
Besides, I can’t help but feel like procreating is a weird, narcissistic endeavour.
I couldn’t justify making more kids with all the adoptable ones out there. But even if I did decide to adopt, I’m pretty sure there would be some kind of home visit involved to ensure suitability and the social worker or whoever would take one look at the tumbleweeds of cat hair blowing across my living room floor and flee. So yeah, no kids for me.
I guess I always imagined I would have accomplished more and contributed more by the age of 35.
I don’t mean running a sanctuary for orphaned, one-legged koala bears or anything. I suppose I just expected that I would have something solid that I could say I was responsible for-even if it was only my own TV show, a small but thriving theatre space or a book that a few people enjoyed reading.
I’d settle for my own bus pass at this point and that feels somehow like I’ve lowered my ambitions.
And I certainly never dreamed I would be alone at 35. It always seemed like my relationship woes would magically disappear at a certain point in adulthood and I would do that whole living-happily-ever-after thing with someone.
I also imagined I would inexplicably become a good cook and a great housekeeper and would stop injuring myself with power tools. However, domestic bliss and the various and sundry skills that go along with it still elude me.
Being the girl with the rose-coloured corneas that I am, I can see that there are many, many blessings in my life, too. I don’t have Ebola. That’s good. I mean, that’s really, really good.
I also have friends who tell me jokes when I need to laugh, the truth when I need to hear it and “I love you” when I don’t know how anyone possibly could.
I have family that support me and make me want to live up to their belief in me. I have a community that provokes me, inspires me, and on a good day, even feeds me.
And as hokey as it sounds, I have this blessing that is my ability to laugh and make others laugh. There is something so unifying about this gift that, as long as I have it, I figure I’ll have a purpose.
So, maybe it’s not the life I’d imagined for myself. Maybe I’m not the grown-up, award-winning, show-stealing, koala-saving wife and mother I always thought I’d be. But I can get out of bed in the morning-usually.
And when I do, I am greeted by the two most adorable wee beasties in the world and a life that is pretty filled up with good things and people. And really, at the end of the day, at the end of any year, isn’t that what it’s all about?
And who knows, there might still be love for Scott Baio and me in the cards yet.