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One of my strongest memories of my childhood is a fridge magnet. It was a small white cube – about an inch per side – with a flocked frog poking out the top, and the sides of the cube had, in bright red friendly lettering, “life begins at 40”.

This confused tween Aquarion, because it wasn’t a phrase that fit with any theory of biology or progress he was aware of. Maybe something special happened then? Dad seemed the same as last week.

Later revisions of his thought process put the phrase down to something old people said to make them feel better.

So, today I’m 40.

An Apple Watch face with balloons
My watch wished me happy birthday today, because that is the world we live in.

The reality for me has been somewhere between. My teens were spent getting educated, my twenties were spend on making mistakes, working out what I wanted, and depression. My thirties have been better in every regard, despite more mistakes. I’ve no idea what my forties are like, I never really planned to get this far.

Still, I have a house, a seemingly stable job and relationships. Forty has so far contained Rimworld, coffee, tea, an unconscionable number of rubber ducks, and Chinese takeaway, which is a decent start, I guess

The last I remember seeing the magnet was the soot-stained silhouette of it, leaving a white square of the blackened fridge, from where we’d suffered a kitchen fire a couple of years later. I’m not sure where this fits in the above metaphor.

I had hoped to celebrate properly. I’ve literally been planning to do something for this for years, and plans have involved castles, islands, or just a village hall and a bunch of friends. But the Ongoing Situation makes all that impossible, so I’ll just have to find another excuse later in this year or next.


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