THE BIRTHDAY

Lifestyle

large (12)It’s that wonderful time of year again where I gain a wrinkle, four grey hairs and have a crisis of age.

I love birthdays.

Obviously the cards, presents and celebratory food cushion the blow, but why do I always panic when I realise that I’m another year older despite understanding – since the tender age of five – the simple concept of time?

Despite this blind, undying ignorance, birthdays aren’t all bad. Because mine happens to fall in the spring time – the season best known for new beginnings, bunny rabbits and general pinterest-worthy joyousness – I always treat them like a second New Year. I pledge vows to myself and set targets for the year ahead by reflecting on the things I’d have done differently, and of course, I rarely stick to my promises. So I thought, why break the habit of a life time?

Because I’m older, and a little wiser now. That’s why.

It’s essential to think about improvement, but it’s equally as important to realise how far you’ve come. So I will start by thinking about the things that I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Here goes:

One. Things take time. This includes everything from projects, to love.

Don’t. Rush. Anything.

Two. Most people deserve a second chance. Rarely do people deserve a third.

Three. Do not, under any circumstances, fad diet. Just maybe cut down on the Kit Kats.

Four. Yoga is a whole lot more than stretching in tight pants. The older you get, the more you’ll realise this.

And five. Having fewer good friends is better than having lots of shit ones.

I could go on and on, as 25 years is actually quite a long time, but the gist is this: things will always be okay. Yes, I have had my heartbroken, but it’s fixed now. Of course, I have failed at things, but I’ve succeeded in so many others. And, much like you, I cut my own hair once. Badly. But it’s grown out now. What I’m trying to say is, despite living with these goddamn freckles and a butt the size of Narnia my entire life, there are plenty of people who would kill to be you or I. So instead of trying to better ourselves each year, why not give ourselves a pat on the back, just for making it this far? Because life isn’t always a lemon sorbet on The Serpentine, if you know what I mean? And we’re probably doing alright, considering.

Behind a haze of pollution and astonishing drink prices, it’s really rather easy to forget why you’re alive, but when your birthday swings round, and people come together just to celebrate the simple fact that you were born, it all, very suddenly, becomes oh so clear.

Always be thankful for what you have. And I’m not talking about that new camera.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE GRANDPARENT

Relationships

84af3890a1f714ed7ccbebff31fd80d6Mine passed away a long time ago, all popping off in the same year like they had some important engagement to get to that the rest of us weren’t cool enough for. It had better have been one hell of a party because two of them didn’t even have the decency to say goodbye- too busy planning what to wear for their grand entrance perhaps?

From the times that they pushed a pound coin into the palm of your tiny hand, to when they let you eat a whole packet of digestives because you were their favourite; grandparents are the best because they spoil you rotten. My nan would chop up cucumber and cheese into perfect squares for me every time I would visit her house; she didn’t shout when I broke her favourite ornament and she would play me Irish ditties on repeat from her kitchen stereo whilst we diced the veg for dinner.

I still have that tape actually.

Probably because I feel a bit robbed, as there are lots of people my age still hanging onto their grandparents and it frustrates me because the older I get, the more I bloody need them.

Whatever mistakes I made or whatever I faced on my journey through early life, they would tell me that it would all be okay – whether this was down to their wisdom, timeless retrospect, or just because they loved me – it was always nice to hear. This was all well and good for a nine year old me, but now that I’m in my twenties, the funnest but hardest years of my life, where are my grandparents?! I no longer care if someone doesn’t want to play with me and I’ve grazed my knee more times as a twenty five year old than as child so I’ve got that figured out, but I’m telling you: rejections letters and break ups would be a lot easier to take with that chopped up cave aged and an Irish jig to cushion the blow. Don’t get me wrong, although they would squeeze me tight when things got hard, the best part was that it was always accompanied by a good kick up the backside and a relinquishing effort from them to force me to keep going.

And that’s because their generation were strong. We seem a lot weaker than them: living through world wars, explicit racism, depressions… actually, it sounds a lot like what we’re going through, so scrap that. I do think, however, that they have more of a resilience to things. In fact, it was summed up by Beadie’s daughter perfectly in Girls recently:

“Every time I meet someone five or more years younger than me, they are a complete a**hole. Is it because you were told you were special one too many times and you believed it? Because when my generation and every generation before me were called special, we were smart enough to know it meant we were stupid, so it made us work that much harder to stop being stupid.”

I, much like most of you probably, hold my grandparents in the highest regard. Funny really, when you actually consider that they’re just normal human beings underneath the armour and angel wings. They are (or were) in-laws to our parents and so we might think they’re great, but our mums and dads probably think they’ve been a pain in the arse on more than one occasion, and they too have stories to tell. They’ve had their hearts broken, experienced love, loss, sadness, anger and they too have made mistakes; probably some quite big ones. But the best thing about realising that they too are human? Is that they’ve done everything one, or two, steps ahead of you, so their advice is invaluable.

Sometimes I think that we’re so busy growing, that we forget that they’re growing old. So if you’re lucky enough to still have your grannies, granddads, nanas and pops, ask them to tell you their story whilst you still have the chance.

But be sure to make a cup of tea first, and perhaps bring some tissues, it’s bound to be interesting.

The Age

Relationships

As of late, it seems that all of my beautiful girl friends have paired up with the older gentleman.

I am most definitely all for following ones heart and normally don’t consider details such as age to be an issue but I cannot help but think that relationships with such a large age gap (over ten years) will all end in tears. I don’t doubt for a second that two people are gloriously compatible in spite of their age. In fact, I can imagine that dating the older guy would be rather pleasurable, but I think the challenge arises when you consider what stage of life you’re at. A guy in his thirties has probably had multiple relationships, most of which undoubtedly ended because of the marriage dispute, whereas a girl in her early twenties probably has relationships that ended because she wanted to go to Ibiza as a single gal.

Ever since my A level English teacher told the class that the beauty of relationships is growing together, this notion has stuck. The girl is growing. He is already grown. She has her whole life ahead of her and his is predominantly behind him. I know how pessimistic (and Ageist) this sounds, but I’m really not trying to be. For some, it most definitely works. Ashton and Demi seem to be cracking on. But is that because the sexes are reversed I wonder?

I think that the road for a couple with an age gap is a little more rocky than normal, but as with everything in life, I think it’s worth a shot and if it fails, at least you’ve learnt something. I guess until I’ve actually been in the situation, I can’t really comment…

I’ll see you at the bingo hall in half an hour.