I was just starting to tell people how your thirties are so much better than your twenties when I hit my midthirties, and my life felt like it might explode. I was unhappily single and childless, and the window was waning to get things right. I could hear the tick-tock when I walked into a room, which better be the right room, the right bar, the right party. Otherwise, I had blown another day. Another chance to have the life I wanted.

But everything changed one afternoon. I was killing time at a neighborhood bar, pretending to read a book but hoping I might get noticed.


I turned and saw a woman from the past. “Ali? Is that you?” It was Ali Peterson. My college roommate.

“I go by Alicia now.” She moved to join my table.

We hugged and she kissed me on both cheeks, even though we both know she failed college French. Back then she was a happy, round-faced girl who wore thick librarian glasses. Cute and easily overlooked. But now, Ali P—Alicia—was lean in athleisure. She had a sleek ponytail and tretinoin-smooth skin without the weird shine.

“You look fantastic!”

“You too,” she said, even though we both knew that wasn’t true. My habits hadn’t changed, but over the years I’d gone soft in the middle and hollow under my eyes. I undid my ponytail, desperate to hide my cheeks, which were puffy and saggy.

“What are you drinking?” Alicia reached for the menu.

People on couch
To continue reading please sign in.
Join for free