forty (or, bermuda can kiss my —)


On Friday, I will be forty.

The fact that it will be Friday the thirteenth is not lost on me.


I’ve been hearing that the forties are the best decade ever.

That women feel empowered in their forties.

That they are old enough to have found out what really matters and young enough to be able to live what they’ve learned.

That they find comfort in their own skin, finally learning that they are not defined by the shape of their bodies nor the size of their clothing, but by who they are and how they live their lives.

And I don’t mean to be rolling my eyes like a bratty thirteen year old as I type this; I swear.

It all sounds great, really.

And I think under different circumstances, I’d probably be kicking up my heels, dancing and laughing my way into this next decade.

But well, I am where I am.

And if I’m being honest, where I am lately doesn’t include a whole lot of dancing.

I am unsettled.

I am anxious.

I am under tremendous pressure to figure out just what the hell comes next.

I have three other human beings (and a dog) depending on me to figure it out sooner than later.

And one of them needs a whole lot more than the average bear, so it ain’t really the run-of-the-mill kind of ‘figuring it out’.

So, this isn’t quite what forty was supposed to look like.

Forty was supposed to be, well, different.







Just plain easier.

Know what else?

Forty was supposed to happen in Bermuda.

I never told anyone that. (Except for my friend, Drama the other day just for the hell of it.) No point, really.

But that was where I had long ago decided that my fortieth birthday would be.

Toes in the sand, drink in my hand, Luau by my side.

We would be there with friends.

There would be at least six of us, maybe eight.

We’d spend a weekend laughing until our cheeks hurt.

We’d tell embarrassing old stories as we created new ones.

We’d linger over drinks after dinner and walk the beach at sunset.

We’d laugh some more as I bid my thirties farewell – watching the waves sweep the entire decade out to sea.

Of course there’s no Bermuda.

There’s no group of three or four couples who can fly off for the weekend just for the hell of it.

No three or four couples at all really.

That’s no longer the world that I inhabit.

On so very many levels.


So I will ring in forty at home.

I will be surrounded by my family.

We will say grace – the same grace that we say every night before dinner.

“Thank you for the food we are about to receive and the precious gift of each other. Amen.”

I will look around the table and see what really matters.

These people – these incredible people with whom I am so blessed to share my life and whom I love with a ferocity I never could have imagined.

I will decide the rest is crap.

I will blow out the candles on my homemade cake.

I will make a wish.

I will try not to cry when I do, but I probably will anyway.

I will resolutely tell myself that Bermuda can kiss my ass.

I’ll even declare a boycott on their stupid shorts. Yeah, that’ll show em.

I will realize how lucky I am.

I will be overwhelmed by gratitude.

I will take a bite of cake and savor it. I will not sweat the fact that it will go straight to my thighs.

Screw it.

I will take another bite.

I will hold my girls close.

I will decide that maybe forty ain’t the end of the world.


So take that, Bermuda.

43 thoughts on “forty (or, bermuda can kiss my —)

  1. I had a similar deal with Paris, where I spent my 30th, with a group of friends…I’m not holding my breath, but you never know. Have a very happy 40th, and may your birthday wish come ture!

  2. Jess,

    Happy birthday!

    Our birthdays are one day apart! And I promise (having crossed over the end of the world line two years ago) that it just gets better. The cake is cakier, the hugs are huggier and Bermuda (or in my case NYC) gets more beautiful the longer I wait for it.

    Thank you again for the gift you give me every time you write.


  3. I had the same dream for our 10th anniversary – only it’s Hawaii – and it would be to celebrate my 40th too. (it’s in a year) Seeing as we can’t even get out for a dinner, I know we’ll have to celebrate in a different way. By the way, I hate birthdays.
    I don’t know if it’s much comfort, but maybe you can take solace in the fact that there are so many of us here in cyberspace that you have helped and guided over the years, that if we all could we’d swoop in and take care of your family so you could have that time away.
    Hope tomorrow is a special one for you and all your wishes come true (especially all that money!)

  4. first of all happy birthday. i mean it, feel it, but i know it’s not the happiest thing to hear right now. still: happy birthday.

    secondly: i hate birthdays. i dread every single one, really feel down about them. so i hear what you’re saying. you know you’re supposed to enjoy them, but you feel all of that unpleasantness. that’s just the way it is. it’s hard to connect what you feel and what you’re supposed to feel, lot of distance there.

    my advice. put the kids to bed early and hit the bottle. woo! that’s my idea of a birthday celebration. plenty of booze, followed by a long, long big of sleep.

    (i don’t understand why no one has hired me to write an advice column, i think i’m a natural at this.)

  5. Happy birthday, lovey.

    If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that there’s no sense in pretending we’re not taking this life one day at a time.

    I’d deliver the crappy champagne (stolen from a hotel room in NYC) myself, if I could.

    love you to pieces,

    miss you to bits.

  6. Screw Bermuda! You are going to be one FABULOUS forty year old! Cause you are a pretty amazing 39 year old! Enjoy your day and have a second piece of cake.

  7. I celebrate your birth everyday as well as those yearly dates. I must say there are very few 40 year olds that are as accomplished,wonderful, beautiful, terrific, and as absolutely perfect as you are and continue to be.
    Whatever your plans for the celebration were, they pale next to who and what you have become, as you are just about the BEST human being I have ever known.

  8. It’s a number, don’t sweat it! (said from some who is 32, so I KNOW it doesn’t hold much water!)

    Happy Birthday lovely lady!

  9. It’s not what you expected, but boy, is it deeper, richer, and more meaningful.

    This has been a year, bubbie.

    I’m thankful that we are all here.

    The numbers thing? Meh.

    It’s all about crack fillers.

    Bermuda can wait.

    You know what matters.

    Love you to the moon and back.

  10. Happy Birthday!
    I still cry when I think about my 50th birthday. (I’ll post about it later because you don’t deserve to have me dump on YOUR day)

    Enjoy and be happy. Know that many will be there celebrating with you in spirit.

  11. Jess,

    I remember this day each and every year (and annoyingly to you) at 12:47 PM, the very minute you were born and the proudest time of my life. You’ve accomplished more in these years than I ever could have imagined and no mother in the world could possibly be prouder. Happy Birthday, my love. It will get better!

    I love you, Jess.

  12. Heh. Gotta tell you, lovie, the 40’s really re what you make of them. I had Nik at 40 (yes, you do the math, I’m way past 40). It doesn’t look at all like I planned and dreamed but the richness…even with all it’s pain and worry, is so beautiful it hurts sometimes. Truly.

    And, you know, there are some cultured where 13 is LUCKY. It’s all about perspective, dear.

    Wishing you a happy, happy start to a new chapter in your life. And, hey, who says you can’t make a little pile of sand in the backyard, sit in the moonlight sipping champagne with Luau and make your own private Bermuda? 😉

  13. Birthday are a celebration of life. Think of all the moms who never made it to 40, leaving their young ones behind. I hit that three years ago and yeah, I went to the drug store for the facial hair remover, wrinkle creams, alpha hydroxy body lotions and all that crap. I licked my old wounds for a day or two but then… It all just goes on. I’ve seen your picture. You’re a total hottie so zippit lol! Enjoy that cake and your special day. Just think- when you hit 50 you’ll be missing 40. Whoop it up! And happy, happy birthday! ( ps- my 40th was supposed to be Venice. Poop happens I guess!)

      • You’re very welcome. And it’s very true! So there! ;oD Have an awesome day! I’ll have a glass of wine in your honor. Did you know that wine and dark chocolate contain anti oxidants? That makes wine and chocolate health foods- so consume as much as possible!

  14. I hate to tell you this, but I DID spend my 40th birthday at the Outer Banks with 8 of my bestest girlfriends, including my mother and my daughter, with my toes in the sand and a rented red Mustang convertible. It was… a moment. And I spent the next year living one of the most life-changing, horrible years that almost tore me and my family apart (not related to autism). And what I learned from both of them was that life is to live- and that beach moments can wait, but that family and friends cannot. And beach and family and friends and contentment together are worth everything. No matter when.

    Go ahead and turn on Kenny Chesney, Rusted Root (whatever) and buy yourself some really good rum, and invite some folks over, and laugh. Or hold a virtual party- where your friends all “come over” at a designated time and you read things as they are written- blog, IM, FB, whatever.

    And start planning a fabulous 41st birthday- which is a prime number- and being in the prime of your life is always a good reason to have a blowout celebration! Or a 42nd birthday, which, as everyone knows, is twice 21, so you get to have your 21st birthday party AGAIN! Bermuda is a must. Healthy, happy, family along with Bermuda- that’s something to keep aiming for. 40- enh. 40 is adjustment. 41, now…

  15. “Women are most fascinating between the ages of 35 and 40 after they have won a few races and know how to pace themselves. Since few women ever pass 40, maximum fascination can continue indefinitely.” -Christian Dior

    I agree with Christian! 🙂 Happy Birthday, lovely!

  16. Hey, do it for 41. Plan now. Really, if I can make it to Costa Rica, single mom, all three kids in tow, one autistic, then I’m thinking a trip to Bermuda is right up your alley. Next year. Plan well. Plan now. And happy birthday.

  17. Dear Jess:

    This month, Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s Heeling Autism program is in the running for a $250,000 grant from Pepsi’s Refresh Project. We are currently ranked 7th out of 415 – we need to be in first or second place to receive funding.

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    Can you help us encourage more votes? You can post this link – – to your blog / FB page / etc. Your supporters have the potential to make a huge difference.

    Thank you for your consideration; please let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like more information.

    Warmest wishes,


    Michelle Brier

    Events and Marketing Manager

    Guiding Eyes for the Blind

    611 Granite Springs Road

    Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

    (o) 914.243.2208

    $250,000 will change kids’ lives. VOTE every day in August for Heeling Autism at

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  18. Wishing you a most wonderful birthday celebration with the people you love the most. Much love and many blessings to you, my friend. xo

    P.S. I’m trying to line up a trip to St. John in six months for my 40th. We’ll see!

  19. At the risk of sounding horribly morbid, can I tell you about my beautiful, nerdy dad? His name was (you guessed it) Jack. He succumbed to a decade-long battle with a brain tumor just four days after his fortieth birthday. If I know one thing for sure, I know this: He just wanted to live…

    So please… Eat the cake. Hug your babies. Hug Luau. Live.

    Love you!

  20. Happy Birthday! I say you find 2 girlfriends and go to a tropical place at some point this year–then you and Luau start planning your (yikes) 50th bday in Paris.

  21. Happy Birthday sweet Jess! Hope you have a wonderful birthday and in fact a fantastic year being 40! Who needs Bermuda to have fun? Bermudas loss; not yours I’m sure – as I am certain that where-ever you are and whatever you do, you will be celebrating your birthday in style! x

  22. What love and joy and light expressed here in these comments, Jess. All a reflection of you. The world is a deeper and more wonderful place because you were born into it…and into the hearts of so many because of the encouragement,support, humor, honesty and love that you pour into this blog..
    You are one amazing woman…
    Enjoy and be gracious to yourself…
    And of course, you all are in my prayers as you discern the next steps on your journey. You are in Good Hands.

  23. loved reading all your comments from such loving people. You are a very lucky woman! 🙂 I can see both sides – I REALLY want to be at WDW for my 40th next Feb but several factors make it not to be. So I’m settling for a different time of year that works better, and later so we can save more $. And I don’t think, when you look back on it, that you’ll care if you go to your on that EXACT day. Life is precious and we are celebrating you. Happy birthday! XO

  24. Yep, you’re 40 alright, your perspective is already where 40 gets you, sooner or later! Happy birthday, Jess, and I may consider pulling my Bermuda shorts from the line up in your honor. Do you have an Elmo cake for tonight? I recommend on. You just can’t go wrong with Elmo.


  25. I missed your birthday. I hope it was happy, despite your bittersweet feelings.

    Here’s the thing. I had a HARD time turning 40. My life was very (very, very) complicated and not what I’d imagined it would be. I’ll be 44 at the end of the month, and I gotta say – all those things they say about the 40s? They’re true. Best. Decade. Ever.

    Welcome to the club.

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