*Spoilers for season 3 of The Good Place and season 4 of Crazy Ex Girlfriend ahead, as well as for year 40 of my life.
Last year I turned 40. Last week I got my first (and only?) tattoo. In two days I’ll get my first and definitely only hysterectomy.
It’s a time of change, as all times are, I guess. But I feel in a way like I’m at an (almost?) mid-life peak from which I can see all that’s come before and all that’s (maybe, perhaps) expected to come after.
Needing this hysterectomy right now, at this year, feels like an illustration that’s almost too on the nose (as Rebecca said in Crazy Ex Girlfriend.) Physically I’m removing something that’s also been moving on emotionally.
My baby-making days are past, really and truly, close that door/cervix and move on. In fact, all the whirling identities I’ve tried so far are laid out in a line behind me, all the potentials in front of me. It’s dizzying and I feel like I’ve got a bit of vertigo. Crazy Ex Girlfriend illustrated this, too, in song – as it so often aptly does. In “Eleven O’Clock” Rebecca sees all her previous identities rotating around her in the form of her old outfits (they’re in the shape of a clock, why not be on the nose, after all?)
It’s not 11:00 necessarily for me – maybe more like 4:00 p.m., half way through the day, perhaps? But in any case, I can see my own outfits this way, too. There is my old crazy flashy Star Trek shirt I wore all through college, my wedding dress, my work slacks, my stained button-down’s I wore while nursing. There are more recent yoga pants and botanical prints and my t-shirt which states proudly “Basic Birch.”
These are all me but not all of me. They are my lobster shells I’ve loved and moved on from to one degree or another. And now I am 40, and I’m going forwards into a day with hours I can’t remember and a life where many of my choices have already been made. Who and what will I be after this? Can I change? Should I change? Sometimes the confusion feels like Eleanor from The Good Place. When she doesn’t know who she is, she throws Janet’s realm into chaos by rapidly changing from person to person to person in a panic.
Eventually Eleanor calms down and changes back to herself through soul mate Chidi, who loves her enough to remind her who she is. Rebecca also gets help from her close friend Paula, who helps her see it was the very process of creating these outfits and scenarios that shows what she loves. (Yes, the answer is musical theater. Of course it is. Is there ever any other??)
I rely on my loved ones too, although we can’t always have someone at hand at every moment to keep us grounded in our identities. This is one reason I wanted to get my tattoo, which is a branch of leaves on my wrist. It reminds me of my three daughters who are always a core part of me. It reminds me of nature that binds all this life together. And it reminds me that I can choose the marks I make, the impact I have, the roles I play. Whatever is up ahead will be uniquely mine just as what has come before.
I won’t be able to do yoga for six weeks after the surgery which will be quite a change. In the meantime I hope to delve deep into meditation and see what other forms of me are waiting at the surface, like baby teeth ready to emerge. The me in the yoga pants will still be there, waiting. (Ok let’s face it, I’m never taking off the yoga pants. But the me in the yoga pants using the yoga pants for yoga will be waiting.)