Monday, March 28, 2011

Age Cannot Wither Her...Much

This weekend hubby Kevin and I took off for Healdsburg, a charming little village two hours away in the wine country. Cy, seven, calls it "WineTown". It was my birthday yesterday and I turned a glorious 49. As my husband gleefully pointed out, I'm now in my 50th year. Kevin bought me a Metal Earth necklace made by my friend Rebecca.

J Vineyards, Sonoma

It may interest you to know that until eight years ago my husband was not fully appraised of the fact that I was - and still am - five years older than him. If we hadn't met up with an immigration lawyer in London, Kevin would have remained blissfully unaware of this fact. At that stage we had three children.

Notting Hill, London
It wasn't that I ever lied exactly, just that I didn't correct him when it became evident that he thought I was much younger than I was.

The truth was I have always been older than everyone around me since I was an AFS exchange student in the US. Because of opposite seasons I had nearly finished my final year at  Whakatane High School in  New Zealand, before I started senior year at New Canaan High School where I was just that bit older. At Uni in New Zealand, I was a year older than everyone again.

New Canaan, CT
Being a contrarian I trained for seven years to be a barrister, then switched careers to journalism, so I found myself toiling away for no money (literally, this was the last recession, no jobs) at a local radio station while all my friends took off to Europe for their  "OE" . That's Overseas Experience, the Kiwi tradition of enlightening oneself for at least two years whilst travelling in a combi van round Europe. This entails being a bloody idiot with other bloody idiots Running With The Bulls in Pamplona, steeping oneself in the history of Bavarian castles and Michelangelo's church ceiling and of course unravelling the recondite mysteries of Oktoberfest beer songs.

That meant I arrived in London much later. It meant I was a 30-year-old chalet "girl" in Champery, Switzerland (an optional, but I feel, vital part of "OE") where most everyone else was 19 years old.  They affectionately called me "Grandma." I met Kevin when I was nearly 33 and we had baby Harley when I was 35.

It wasn't that I was deliberately secretive or even "economical with the truth" or even that Kevin was excessively obtuse -  more that I was evasive. He never saw my passport clearly though we flew all over the world in our first three years together, including to Peru when I was four months pregnant with Harley.  Somehow our exact ages never came up.

After three kids we decided to move from London to the US and when we met with an immigration lawyer she advised us that we had to get married in order to live in the US.  Then she exclaimed rapturously - looking at my birth certificate - "Hey, Jody! Celebrations are in order!!!Happy Birthday for this Sunday -  THE BIG 40!"

"Oh no" said Kevin, "She's not 40, she's more like...35 or is it 36???"

Our lawyer realised what she had done: "I'm. So. Sorry!!!! " she mouthed to me, her eyes terrified.

The game was up. Kevin looked at my birth certificate, his jaw dropping. Not exactly the received euphoria presented by the AshtonKutcher-DemiMoore PR machine. "Horrified" would have more accurately described his face.

We were now free to spend the rest of our lives - me with five years less than first thought - in utterly honest abandonment.

Now I will talk about my age to anyone who cares to listen.  I'm already planning my 50th and looking forward to it. It's not that I'm wiser - am still a confirmed "nonga" (Kiwi-kid word for idiot). I'm not more comfortable "in my own skin" when that skin involves present and imminent slippage including elephant knees, crow feet, bingo wings and turkey wattle. There's no philosophy I've encountered that's suddenly makes all those wobblier bits a subject for joy.

And though Cy will point out scary neck stuff, generally the kids have been coached by Kevin to be gentle:  Cy put on his tuxedo and wrote on my "birdar set" (birthday seat): "Mom you get printy avrer secint" (Mum, you get prettier every second). Tallulah wrote me a song:
"Paying the taxes in the hot warm sun,
Looking forward to having some fun.
Eyes as blue as sea, I know she's my mum when she hangs out with me"

Note From Jackson
In the end I found solace in wise words from my friend Sue. "Listen Jodes" said Sue after hearing me whine yet again "Age! There's not a damn thing you can do about it!"

Can you reveal something you've kept from your partner (within reason)?


  1. Happy Birthday! You do look fantastic and I love the necklace.

  2. happy birthday! you look fabulous! what a special birthday and that necklace is just gorgeous.

  3. You look so much younger than your true age. Happy Birthday. Loving the Birthday seat.

    Over recent years I've tried to keep my true age secret when auditioning for musical roles in our amateur dramatic society. I've had a run of great roles - Laurey from Oklahoma and Sarah Brown from Guys and Dolls - even though I'm in my forties. It helps the audience are far enough away not to see the wrinkles!

  4. Wow, what a shock! Not looking your age is a good thing, though, right? I'm right there with you. ;)

    My policy is: never tell your husband what he doesn't need to know. And there's a LOT he doesn't need to know. Hee hee hee hee hee!

  5. Happy Birthday! I think you look amazing! I've never heard the phrase "bingo wings" before and I'm kind of afraid to google it. :)


  6. Happy Birthday! You look amazing - clearly, you've lived a good life. Love the story about you and your hubby's age difference. That's great. And I adore the necklace you received for your birthday - just lovely. As far as things kept from my partner, I'd have to say, "What happens at college, stays at college." :)

  7. Happy, happy birthday!! Thanks for sharing your memories and travels. How fun to know more about you! :) Enjoy the year!!

  8. Looking fab at 49 Mrs! We are the same age but I'm happy to say that people mistake me for about 10 years younger than I am (Thank you mum for your great genes!) and am likewise unlikely to correct anyone who assumes I am younger. Why would you! x

  9. As always your post makes me laugh and smile! Happy belated birthday, you look great! We have some similar history--just substitute film school for beer fest {pretty much the same thing}! We will have to catch up sometime over a nice glass of red!

    xo Mary Jo

  10. Gosh i love your posts!!! Happy "well-deserved" birthday to you! I think this is one of the best stories i have heard in a while : ) . . . . love your true and honest wit!

  11. Happy Birthday! You look absolutely fabulous at every age!!

  12. Happy Birthday! I was about to say you don't look a day over 45, but then, well, um, . . . never mind. Glad you had time to wine about the country, and not whine about your age. And if the Vicar is coming over, you really must have sherry, especially after 4:00 p.m.

  13. Happy Birthday! Again, a very funny story about your life. I can't believe he didn't know until under a decade ago and three kids in.

  14. Happy bday! Your hubby and kids seem sooo sweet!
    When I turned 20 I was sad for just a day or so because I though I was old... I quickly realized though how silly it was, and how at 25 I would probably wish I were 20 and so on... So since that time I embrace my age and enjoy every minute of it! I am actually looking forward to being 40 this September!
    LOL about Octoberfest. Never done it, but heard it's lots of fun.
    I can understand how you felt as an exchange student. In Georgia I was almost a college graduate, but when I got to the US I started college all over and was 3-4 years older than my classmates.

  15. Happy birthday!!!! I didn't realize our birthdays were so close! I may be younger, but let me tell you... You look GOOOOD. I want to be exactly like you when I "grow up." Please share a few of your secrets with us (I'm sure you already have... I may need to do a little back reading, since I am new to your blog :)!!

    Very, very funny story and cute post (love all of the pictures), and as far as secrets...

    Just how much time I actually spend on the computer (as of late) is a mystery. But looking at all of the laundry, it's evident that this needs to change. ;)

  16. happy birthday!!! :D you look fantastic! i wish to be as gracefully beautiful as you when i turn 49. :)

    <3, Mimi

  17. SUCH A WONDERFUL HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTH TWIN!!! Im so happy to hear of another March birthday! :) You look beautiful, I love your necklace and clothes as always! Your kids are too adorable and I love the song your daughter wrote, so sweet.

    Hmm...let me see, when we first met my husband thought I was 30 and after the first date he found out I was 22! :) But Im happy to have a husband who is a little older than me, no games to be played! <3

    Happy Birthday love!

  18. happy belated birthday jody! you look 5 years younger than kevin :) xo amber

  19. You are my hero -- that is an *awesome* story!! Happy Birthday. I'm still laughing . . .

  20. Happy Birtday, Demi! And what a coup! Now that's a great story :)

  21. So funny! I'm 8 years older than my husband. I think you look fabulous, I love your hair.

  22. loveing the throw back photo red top blue jeans ... was that in the 1980s?
    you still look that same wow...Fantastic blog

    ..Check out my blog, lets follow each other....

  23. Happy birthday beautiful! Regardless of age, you are a gorgeous gal! Love the funny story!

  24. Happy birthday!! Great pictures and great story! I love this post.

  25. Happy birthday, Jody!!! You are born the day before my daughter! I loved this age story, and the way you embrace it with abandon after...not. It's very funny and lovely. It's so nice to meet you. Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting so that I could come by and discover you here! Looking forward to browsing some more. And you are a beautiful almost 50, I would add. Your husband knows it, too!

  26. I loved reading your story - you've had such an interesting life, I can't compete! And your children sound adorable.

    You know, 50 is a good age. I celebrated my 50th last December so I hope you plan something suitably fantastic for yours.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment - and I will definitely be back to read yours again x

  27. oh i've missed you, jody! playing major blog catch up after having family in town and being sick and i just loved this story! i am a firm believer that age is just a husband and i got together when i was very very young (16) and he was six years older. imagine the scandal?

    happy belated birthday! just loved this story!



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