Tomorrow, I will be 41.  I will not have  a party.  I will have a nice day on my own and then I will meet up with my love for a simple dinner out and some live music.

I was ecstatic about 40.  Really.  I could barely contain my excitement.  I felt I had passed through a magic portal and arrived somewhere fabulous.  Perhaps more importantly, I felt that I had left behind a whole lot of pain (pain of divorce which took 5 years of struggle, chronic back pain which ended with surgery mid-2008) and then just the pain in the ass of being a young woman in our culture.  The pain in the ass of the male gaze, the pain in the ass of the intense expectations about appearance and behaviour.  I really felt that this was all firmly behind me.  Ironically I felt and looked better than ever- at the time I was acting in the Vagina Monologues at a beautiful Montreal theatre, I had just met a wonderful man who is a perfect match for me and we had just started a musical duo and so I was playing lots of violin.  And to top it all off my children were happy, healthy and clearly becoming more autonomous at 12 and 15.  Turning forty felt fabulous.

I had always felt that it would–even as a little girl.  I had a very strong feeling that things would be good at that age.  That I would have worked out the hardest stuff—the not being myself, the overconcern with being what I thought others wanted me to be.  My prophetic feeling was right on.

Turning forty was like passing through a magical portal into a new place.

Turns out that the magical part was the portal.  The passage.

The new place is just a real regular place with its own new set of realities and problems: how to stay healthy and fit, how to have enough money for older age,  helping my kids plan for their education, dealing with more mess than before, more grocery shopping than before, and less quality time with my kids than before.

So tomorrow I turn 41.  It’s not such a big deal.  It just means I am here, on the other side, and there is no turning back.