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over the hill, gladly

over the hill, gladly

Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer here. This is the summer of 40 for me. Yes, I am once again expounding on the number 4-0. I can't help it.

The people who manufacture party goods seem to think that 40 is significant in the fact that it marks your descent of the other side of the mythical hill. Over the Hill!, says every cardboard cut-out and banner and sign and balloon made to mark someone's 40th birthday.

Does that mean 39 was the top of the hill? Was I supposed to spend this past year standing at the peak of my lifelong climb, maybe planting a flag in the ground that says I MADE IT? I mean, if 40 is marked by napkins and matching paper plates all decorated with coffins and gag gifts like rubber canes, then shouldn't 39 have been marked with something equally brazen? Perhaps a big gold certificate saying that you made it to the top, or at least a warning that this was supposed to be the pinnacle year of your life and maybe you could go out and enjoy it rather than spend it anxious and depressed?

I am a bit nervous to see what's on the other side of this so-called hill. Do you step over the top and then tumble down haphazardly, landing in a craggy, corpse-strewn pit? Do you get to walk down the hill at leisure, picking flowers and getting tan along the way? Or do you step over that line and there's a sled and a steep slope made of ice waiting for you?

Now that I am approaching the downward spiral of my life (according to greeting card authors, at least), I bring to mind that saying that says something to the effect of being nice to the people you meet on the way up, for you may pass them on the way down.

So I'd like to take this Memorial Day to pay homage to the people that made that upward climb towards the big 4-0 such a struggle, because they are the ones who really helped shape how the second half of my trip is going to be.

To L., my friend who lived across the street for most of my childhood, for teaching me what backstabbing means, for being an opportunistic bitch and for setting the bar as far as crushing my self-esteem goes.

To my second grade teacher, who made sure we lined up in size order all the time, and always pointed out that I was last in line and oh so small. Also, for never putting an end to the teasing and name calling that took place in the classroom.

To S. and J., the neighborhood boys who threw bricks at my head, left filthy, disgusting notes in my door, physically attacked me on many an occasion, and made me afraid to leave my own house.

To J.H., for using and abusing me in a million different ways, for not owning up to the things you did, and for just being a huge asshole. Your brothers, too.

To G., for playing people against each other, forming sides and drawing lines. For starting battles and hiding while everyone else fought them out.

To C., for making me think I was worthless and useless and in your command. For totally dominating my life to the point where I had none.

To V., for a myriad of things for which I will always harbor bitterness and resentment and deep, festering hatred for that part of you that sucks.

To myself, for allowing these people to treat me that way, for never standing up for myself, for being a doormat, a willing victim and a pushover.

So as I stand here at the top of this hill, ready to take the plunge to the other side, I do so with the confidence and strength that only overcoming a life full of assholes can give you. Once I step over to the other side, I will no longer see the road I took up here. It will be obscured by the top of this hill and if I look back over my shoulder while I'm headed down, I will only see the past few years, the only years I want to see.

This is a good-bye to all of those people, to all of the baggage I lugged up here with me, to the person I was before I made it here.

40 never sounded so good.

Comments

Next month I turn 66. I was really too busy moving the year I turned 40 to notice it. At 40 you are at the top of the hill of adulthood--and the next twenty plus years are a mesa, interspersed with some additional hills you may decide to climb. I am happily employed in work I love and which I plan to continue for quite some time. Enjoy being at the beginning of the "F" years--the forties and fifties are really great!

Amen. I turn 50 this week. The forties were great, and I'm looking forward to the fifties.

When I was 38, I felt omniscient and it seemed like that was life's pinnacle. I couldn't imagine that life could be improved in any way, but it turns out the best was yet to happen. I would not want to return for even one hour to the days of my youth. It was great while it was happening, but maturity and life experience elevate you to what can only be described as enlightenment.

Life isn't about what happens to you - it is about how you react to what happens to you. Everyone you meet leaves their mark on you in one way or another. My personal motto is 'Forgive, But Never Forget.'

Except that I never ever forgive anybody.

Things have improved so much for me since turning 40 that I would never want to go back either, except for the pain in various joints. I'm 43 now, and things have never been better.

I know I'm a little late with this, but I'm happy that you've been strong enough to get out of the circle of abusive so-called "friends" and "partners".

You're a very great person and should only look back on those pathetic people with a triumphant smile, because they couldn't be further from being the fascinating person that you are, and they failed to see the real you, don't know what they're missing.