Sunday, February 22, 2009

Being a Speed Limit

Today is my birthday, and for the first time in five years, I'm a speed limit. For the last time until I hit 55 or 70, I am now one of the most common speed limits on American roads - 45. How cool is that?

Now if I were celebrating any other birthday, it wouldn't be as cool. After all, I don't know that there's anything particularly special about turning an age that just happens to be divisible by the number 5. Said birthdays are even less cool when they're not one of those mile markers like 25 or 75 that represent entire quarter centuries lived. By those standards, 45 is buried in ignominy.

It's different when you're turning an age that is divisible by 10. When your age ends in a zero, you've just finished living a(nother) decade of life and there's a whole new decade in front of you. The first one of these - when you turn 10 - is really neat because now you can count your age using double digits. The decades that follow mark transitions into different parts of life. Not only that, but it helps the increasingly aged mind that the math becomes much easier at a 10-year point.

There's something about the decade that makes those birthdays extra cool, too. We even talk about time in terms of decades. It's easy to refer to the sixties, seventies, eighties, or whatever. But who in the world talks about time in five-year increments? Think about it: while people may reminisce about the seventies, for instance, they just don't wax rhapsodic about the specific period of the late seventies. Of course, that may have more to do with the lame clothes and disco music of the time, but still . . . We just don't talk about fives the way we do tens. This is just another reason that some may be tempted to leave 45 in the dust of passing time.

But there are other cool things about being 45. For one thing, it's halfway to 90. I've got another 45 years before I'm really old. But, by far, the coolest thing about being 45 is that I'm now a speed limit. My age is posted on rectangular white signs for the whole world to see. Granted, said signs don't say "Julayne is 45," they simply say, "Speed Limit 45." But every time I pass one from now on, I'll know it means me.