Reflections on the Birthday before the Big Birthday

Tomorrow, May 14th is the 20th anniversary of my 39th Birthday. So, I have another year until I go from middle age territory to the senior citizen realm. It’s a time to really try to say goodbye to my middle age, so why am I having such trouble saying goodbye to my youth instead? And my question is, How many of you out there are like me?

There are still so many times when I feel like an overgrown teenager, such as at the recent Bruce Springsteen concert, where thanks to my exercise regimen, I was able to jump up and down to the entire Rosalita song just as I had in my late teens, early twenties. I was in such a Bruce zone, I could have been back in my youthful days. (In fact, I am actually embarrassing to watch at concerts of my favorite old time groups where I am transported back to teenager-ville. One time an acquaintance of my husband spied me at a concert and mentioned my Uber-enthusiasm to my husband and found it fascinating. Mortification followed.)

I can watch a movie from my youth, and feel the exact same as I did when I first watched it. Time stands still for me emotionally with certain movies.

Sometimes my maturity is akin to a teen instead of a middle aged matron, such as recently when I was tracking my son’s Facebook posts (or lack thereof) and then pouted.

Put me on a beach, and I am Gidget, or Annette Funicello, romping enthusiastically and wiggling sand between my toes. No wonder we bought a second home in a beach town. I become a different person on a beach with a real sense of carefree relaxation that only someone youthful has. See my face and demeanor in the photo below?

Beach family


There are times when I put on a pretty youthful-type outfit, and I feel like a girl instead of a woman in that outfit.

Arlene and trees

(Oops, two photos in the same pretty outfit – a definite faux pas.)

Here’s this one then:

Me at 59

I retain my zest for life, my joie d’vivre, my vivaciousness, and my love to have fun. I love to giggle and laugh. I love to dance to rock music, sing loudly and act silly. That makes me feel youthful more than middle aged too. My theme song is “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and has been since the early 80’s. It describes me to a tee. My husband, sometimes charmed by this, calls me a “Silly girl” when my exuberance bubbles to the top.I’m feeling pretty great too, thanks to my yoga regimen and healthier eating. (that last part thanks to my husband) My legs are still my best feature and definitely not senior citizen looking! This encourages me to dress young-ish.

Arlene newest 59

(Although if I am truthful, there are those pesky wrinkles in my face now, and some thickness in my middle, proving that time does march on.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The point here is not to do a vanity piece or fish for compliments. I have friends nearing 65 who look just as good, without surgery. So isn’t it time to re-define what a senior citizen is?

Because when I look in the mirror, and the way I feel with my inner self, is something much, much younger than a senior citizen. I know age is just a number, but the title senior citizen comes with a host of assumptions. I am still a girl in my mind, not a senior citizen!

And just to reassure all of you, I can most successfully do the gown-up, mature thing. I am high achieving in career, motherhood and with my friends because I have that side to me as well. I multi-task and get things accomplished like no one else. I bear tons of responsibility, especially now with elderly parents nearby.  But again deep inside, I am still just a girl.

Will I ever grow up? Am I the female Peter Pan who will never grow up?

So the question remains: How the heck can someone who feels like me on the inside, deal with that looming number that begins with a 6 next year? It seems impossible!

Can I stay a girl even if I am approaching being a senior citizen? How many of you admit to feeling like a kid inside? Are most of us still young girls or young boys deep inside? If your opinion is different though, I won’t mind if you tell me to just grow up.


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  • Bonnie Lassin Grant

    Arlene, I’m with you on staying young at heart forever! I recently hit the age with the big number ‘6’ in it. I feel great and still have the energy of a much younger person, so as long as my good health continues…I’m up for anything!!

  • Happy Birthday Arlene!! and what a great post to commemorate your age and youthfulness (which by all means you should hang on to as long as humanly possible). Having just passed a really “big” birthday I can’t help but notice and admit there have been some profound changes getting here. First, yes mom you were right, my face really did freeze that way! Oh no. I’ve actually been contemplating writing a whole anthology about this time in my life with that as the title. Because there really is so much going on with us at this stage in our lives and a lot of it is scary. I’ll leave you with this Arlene. Growing older and better and happy is great and you are so lucky to be doing all these things. What I find disconcerting is why our society looks upon older people who may be totally into a hobby as a “mid-life crisis.”

  • I just turned 53 and was telling one of my daughters how inside, I still feel like who I used to be in my 20’s and 30’s. I wondered out loud if I will still feel like this when I reach 60 because I agree with you, 60 sounds like you should be more mature or something. I think I see my Grandma in my mind at 60 and I know that isn’t going to be me. I plan on staying just as I am today. Happy to wake up each and every day and enjoying them as I see fit. I too love the beach and going to concerts of those I grew up listening to. One of my favorites was Eddie Money. I’ve seen him five or six times in a large venue but recently saw him in a smaller club. I was the first and only one up dancing to his first song when he reached out and held my hand for a few seconds. I like to say we danced together. Anyhow, believe me when I say I felt like a young girl inside then too and it lasted for weeks! So stay a girl and enjoy the vitality you have and the youthful appearance you’ve no been blessed with. We can talk about our 70’s once we reach 65. Hopefully by then, 70 will be the new 40!

  • you have the BEST wardrobe! Love your taste!

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