The number in your head (re-up-ish).

Macca arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport in 1964, not two months after it was renamed in honor of the assassinated President.

Paul McCartney is now 70 years old.


I mean honestly, how is that even possible? There are numbers, and then there are numbers, and some numbers are just way more Real than others, and 70 is one of the latter.

When McCartney’s one remaining comrade-in-Beatles passed the same milestone a couple of years back, he said something in an interview that really resonated for me, and I wrote a little something about it at the time. Given Sir Paul’s birthday (today!), I’m thinking about it all again, so I thought I’d re-up the post, in slightly edited form. I will admit that it touches on issues that appear to have become a theme for me, but that’s what happens with a blog: You find your themes, whether you meant to or not. Anyhoozle.

 Happy Birthday, Sir Paul! And many more.


Ringo Starr famously celebrated a particularly real number recently, and he had an interesting thing to say about it in the New York Times:

Q. How are you feeling about the number 70?

A. As far as I’m concerned, in my head, I’m 24. That’s just how it is. The number, yeah, it’s high. But I just felt I’ve got to celebrate it. I’m on my feet and I’m doing what I love to do, and I’m in a profession, as a musician, where we can go on for as long as we can go on. I’m not hiding from it, you know.

Q. When you were 24 what did you think you’d be doing at age 70?

A. I don’t know, but when I was 22, actually, I remember this so well, and I was playing, and there was another band, and these people in that other band were 40, and I was saying, “My God, you’re still doing it?” [laughs] Which doesn’t look funny in black and white, but it was incredible, and now I’m waaaaay past 40. My new hero is B. B. King.

Q. What seems like an advanced age to you now?

A. I think 90. But we’ll see. It’s a birthday at a time.

Huh. What age am I in my head? I thought. (And while I’m at it: What age is Sir Paul?)

I’m certainly not 47. I’m not sure what “47 in my head” would feel like, but this is not it. I guess 47 sounds settled, arrived, evolved. I am not settled, nor arrived, nor evolved — and not in the sense that I’m a kid at heart, or that I refuse to grow up, or even that my career is only lately beginning to look vaguely like what I thought it would look like, and that only if I kind of squint with an air of confidence.

No, I just don’t feel essentially different than I have for a very long time. I have been me, this whole time. Things move, I tinker, I am forever messing about — but I’m working on improving the existing program, not replacing the hardware.

No life-altering discoveries, no enormous upheavals, no 12-step programs or major therapy. There was some minor therapy back in the 90s, but that seemed to simply make me more me. I became a mother, yes, that was huge. But contrary to all the fears bandied about out there, one doesn’t become someone new when one becomes a parent. One expands — one doesn’t change.

So when was it that I became this me person? What is the age at which I first felt fully myself?

And I realized: It was when I met my husband. I was 28, I was swimming along quite happily in my life, working a job I liked and was proud of, going out dancing late at night with friends, sleeping with men I only barely knew because I wanted to, and then I met this guy.

And from about two weeks after I met him, I have never been anybody but whoever I am with him. Whatever tweeks and fixes and developments and quiet paddling I’ve accomplished, it’ll all been within the framework of the relationship that has always allowed me to be my best self. My truest self.

In my head, I am 28. And I’ve just written in my journal that I think that Eran and I are going to get married.



  1. dave in texas

     /  June 18, 2012

    I very distinctly remember when Ringo turned 50 (I had read it in the today’s birthday thing in the paper), I had a ‘hmm, I must be getting old’ moment, even though I was only in my mid-30s at the time. Even though I don’t have a touchstone moment to anchor myself to any particular age (and hopefully it’s not Ringo’s birthday), that’s roughly kinda where I feel I am, in my mid-30s or so. I’ve been blessed with good health and in fact am probably in better physical condition than I was back then.

    Maybe it’s because it was about at that time I decided to go to college and get a degree. Maybe it’s because that’s about the time I quit drinking. I don’t know. I’ve just kind of settled into a Jack Benny-like, never-passing-40 thing. It seems to suit me.

    • I may be 28 in my head, but my mid-late-30s were the best time. That age is like a 70-degree day with puffy clouds high up above — maybe not perfect, but darn close.

      • aaron singer

         /  June 18, 2012

        I am 28 right now. I am definitely disappointed with where I currently am, and all the cliches surrounding that (I am not where I thought I would be, even if there was no certain place in life I ever thought of in that regard). I certainly would have a hard time imagining meeting a future potential spouse at this point (if I ever do get married in the first place).

  2. Sorn

     /  June 18, 2012

    beautifully said.

  3. CitizenE

     /  June 19, 2012

    I turned 66 on the weekend. I have for the most part liked getting older “in my head”; my body less so. Last late summer, early autumn I tramped all day long, day after day, in beautiful countryside, and there were times I felt like I was in my twenties in my head, when I did such things all the time, even if what I could actually do left me far more fatigued than I would have been even ten years ago. This spring, I did landscape work, the likes of which I have not done since my forties. My back was killing me, but I was happy, felt like a man in the prime of his life, mid-thirties. Then, I pretty much finished, my type 2 diabetes, having let me alone for a couple of years now since I went vegan, came back with a vengeance. It is uncomfortably hot, meaning not much to do but stay indoors, and I am just, as my doc called it, generally washed out, and I feel old again, old in mind, old in body. Type 2 diabetes sucks. Ah, the first noble truth.

  4. Darth Thulhu

     /  June 19, 2012

    As regards you always being 28 upon meeting FellaEsther: d’aaawwwww. Awesomely sweet. You should make that sentiment an anniversary card some year.

  5. Katryzna

     /  June 19, 2012

    Your daemon settled. In “His Dark Materials,” Phillip Pullman’s characters’ souls live outside their body, in animal form and are called “daemons.” They shape-change until the person becomes an adult. At the end of the third book, you learn that they settle on one form when the souls first feel the touch of a lover. They keep that shape — the shape made by first love — forever.

  6. taylor16

     /  July 8, 2012

    Aww, Emily. I’m finally catching up on my RSS feeds nearly a month later, like always … and was not leaving comments as always, because I’m embarrassed about how late I am in reading … but now I have to leave a comment, because this post made me tear up (in a good way). It perfectly encompasses how I’ve always felt about my husband (but not being a writer, have never been able to express so perfectly):

    “And from about two weeks after I met him, I have never been anybody but whoever I am with him. Whatever tweeks and fixes and developments and quiet paddling I’ve accomplished, it’ll all been within the framework of the relationship that has always allowed me to be my best self. My truest self.”

    Thanks for this. 🙂