She thinks it hits at 35. She watches her husband blow out the candles on his birthday cake, the smoke tendrils hovering in the air before they are swallowed up by the fan in the window of their new home.
By 35 you have settled down and started your family, and if you haven't, it's the year your mother begins to tell you that it's "now or never" and that if you chose the latter, you're going to regret it.
Their friends all sing an off-key version of Happy Birthday, holding long-stemmed glasses of red wine, except for Marie, since she's six months pregnant. She cuts her husband's cake into sizable pieces only to have three of the women decline as they are "watching their weight."
She looks down at the cake on her plate and thinks of the blank application for a gym membership on top of the refrigerator as her friends swap workout stories. She nods her head, gasping every so often and finishes it off with a lot of sympathetic grunting. The men have begun swapping work stories now that they settled down into their leadership positions. They break out into perfectly-harmonized laughter that almost had to be rehearsed.
Someone mentions having to get up early for work and Marie and Tom leave as they have a doctor's appointment in the morning. The clock reads 9:30 and she rolls her eyes, but starts cleaning up the small paper plates scattered around the table. The guests trickle out of the house, echoing the same types of long goodbyes through the still bare hallways.
Her husband slips his arm around her waist, craning his neck down for a quick kiss.
"Thirty-five, it looks like I'm growing old now."