Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I rarely say no to myself. I don’t deny my whims and desires. In fact, in the realm of things that I want to do, there is very little that I haven’t done. I don’t believe in living a life deferred – or a dream deferred as the original poem states. Despite this, as I approach the milestone age of forty, I’m thinking about what I haven’t done and would like to before I transition, by some measures, into my middle age.

It will happen in January of 2010 and, truth be told, I’m quite excited about it. I’ve never feared growing older and I don’t want to adopt that fear as the years progress. In fact, I want to be one of those people who embrace age and its corollary, experience. To achieve the experience part of the equation, I’m thinking about what I haven’t done that I want to do. I’m making a list of things to do before forty.

A dear friend suggested adrenaline activities, which are, I fear, woefully absent from my bank of life experiences. Sky diving, bungee jumping, tight-rope walking. I’ve done none of these. Nor do I particularly want to, but the point is taken about adrenaline. So I’m mulling those and definitely will put one on my list. At this point, I’m leaning to parasailing, but who can tell what might strike my fancy in the next months leading up to the big day.

I also want to dye my hair. Not brown to cover the gray that is now coming in by the handfuls, but pink or purple. A color that will shock and disarm. Perhaps green? I want to have an arresting presence for a few weeks before I cut it all off. I’ve never dyed my hair before, and it seems like a life experience that I am missing, so that’s on my list.

I’d like to do a thorough hair removal. Generally I’m a hairy gal. I don’t shave much but for one day, except for the hair on my head (dyed bright red?), I’d like to be hairless. Everyone tells me that the one hairless day will be paid for with a few weeks of intense discomfort afterward as it all grows back. That’s doesn’t seem to dissuade me, however.

I’m careening into more hedonism as I approach forty, and I embrace that. More partying and revelry all around. I didn’t do as much of this as I could have in my twenties so I’m reversing that part of the life cycle and staying out late getting drunk and sleeping in the next morning.

I’m trying to figure out how to honor all of the people in my life who have died before reaching forty. A group of gay men with whom I came out who have passed away – primarily from AIDS but other medical conditions as well. My sister, who should have been right behind me in approaching forty, but isn’t here to share in it. I want all of them to be present as I celebrate this milestone. So I regularly invoke them, calling on them to celebrate with me.

Suddenly, I’m interested in people who are eighty. What were they doing at forty? How did they spend the last forty years? What lessons do their lives have for me? I’m trying to soak that knowledge up in the way that I studied the forty year olds when I was twenty.

I want to speak another language fluently. I want to read more books that matter and change my life. I’d like to be an expert in something. I want to travel to every continent—at least once, some many times. I want to create my own list of the wonders of the world. I won’t achieve all of those goals by the time I’m forty. It seems prudent to have a few ideas of what I will do with the gift of time I am granted beyond this milestone birthday.

Julie R. Enszer is a writer and poet who lives in University Park, MD. You can read more of her work, including her blog, at www.JulieREnszer.com.

This is column #14 dated October 30, 2007 in the series, CIVILesbianIZATION.

Word Count: 703

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