Monday, October 10, 2011

40-Year-Old Jennifers and the Conspiracy to Conquer Life, Art and Happiness

You may or may not be aware of this fact, but a significant number of Jennifers are turning 40 right now. That's because, for some bizarre reason, every second mother in 1971 named her daughter Jennifer. The best explanation I've heard for this is that the heroine in  Love Story - the one with the really screwed up idea about what love "means" - brought the name Jennifer to the attention of America. My mom swears up and down that's not where I got my name. Maybe it was some huge cosmic coincidence. Who knows? We're here now. We were all born together, we all went to kindergarten together (many of us singing happily along to Free to be You and Me), we all watched M.A.S.H. reruns with our parents when we got home from our dates in high school (we never could get past the fact that Alan Alda was supposed to be narrating Free to Be, not acting like a drunk doctor), and then we went to college BEFORE everyone started taking notes on laptops. (Then we felt very old five years later when we found out those graduates didn't even buy spirals for their classes. It was as if we were the last vanguard of traditional note-taking students.)

Now we're 40. Some are married, some are divorced, and some stayed single. Some are moms, some of us didn't go there. Some are straight, some are gay. But we're all at that point in life when a woman looks around at her life and, if she's lucky, decides that it's time to write that book, or paint that watercolor, or  take that trip that's been niggling at the back of her mind since she was twenty. I'm there and have been slowly building my support group around me as I take baby steps into my artistic future.

As it turns out, I require a tremendous amount of support. Thankfully, I'm surrounded by fabulous friends and family. They've been on the "Jennifer-can-do-it" train for a while now, encouraging me to jump on the bandwagon. I finally decided it might be a good idea to hop on board. I've been building up my courage and support before taking that big leap.

My support system is not primarily made of Jennifers. As a matter of fact, a few of my strongest supporters are men (I've yet to meet a male Jennifer...guess I'll add that to my bucket list). But two of the people who've given me the most to think about in the writing department also happen to be named Jennifer. And both of them were born in 1971. I like the idea that we were all going through our 1970s childhoods (subjected to corduroy pants, the Muppets, and really horrendous pop music) at the same time and found each other on the other side.

I'm beginning to think of this web-o-support as "The Jennifer Club" - but you don't have to be named Jennifer to be a part of it. (Megan was my first and best non-family cheerleader, so she's really the inaugural member of the club.)

In twenty more years, we'll all be 60 years old. As long as The Jennifer Club sticks together and continues to support each other, each decade will improve. So watch out world...I wasn't joking when I said I was going to be conquering you during my forties. It took a few decades, but I think I finally believe that Free to Be message. Thanks, Marlo! 

1 comment:

Megan Willome said...

Glad to be in your corner, albeit as an honorary Jennifer.

Good luck with your conspiracy!