‘Don’t cancel the milestones, just postpone them’

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Image: Instagram @irena_srbinovska.

Amongst the chaos of 2020, Carrie Bickmore explains why every negative can be turned into a positive.

This year was meant to be a “Festival of Forty”. My friends and I decided to embrace turning the big 4-0, and use it as an excuse to live our best lives. On the agenda: Glastonbury, a blues & roots festival, a ’90s-themed birthday bash and getting a tattoo. I’m the first to admit I don’t appear cool enough to do any of those things, but the older I get, the less I care about what people think. I never really did festivals in my 20s, so I had planned on enjoying every bit of that sweaty mosh pit in my fringed denim shorts and glitter body paint – as unmistakable as a middle-aged man at a Bieber concert.

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The universe, however, had other plans. Instead, I sat in my lounge room “streaming” the best of Glastonbury on TV and taking part in low-key Zoom parties as each of my beautiful girlfriends marked their milestone birthdays. My double-denim Britney costume is still hanging in the cupboard.

There have been so many occasions that have not been marked properly this year, occasions that may seem trivial in the scheme of a pandemic, but are the spark in an often-humdrum life.

Hearing about graduations and formals being cancelled brought back memories of my own Year 12 ball. Mum and I spent ages making my grey-velvet, full-length dress, a fabric that my date described sweetly as similar to his nana’s couch. I would drag the phone around the corner into the bedroom so my friends and I could scheme for hours about how we could convince our parents to let us go to the after-party, and who was bold enough to sneak a few Cruisers into the limo. Despite not appreciating at the time that I never had a chance in kissing my date, the hope sustained me through many late-night study sessions.

I am sure there are also those who are relieved they don’t need to frock up or find a date.

As one introvert friend confessed, having her 40th in lockdown was a godsend – she got all the love without having to throw a party.

But there are certain milestones that deserve to be marked – events that make the family photo album, like graduations or 18th birthdays.

I still remember my 21st like it was yesterday, my mum recreating Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’ and making all my friends begrudgingly sing along as we rocked about on a boat in the middle of the Swan River.

We still laugh about it 20 years later.

I watched as my son marked his 13th, not with the loud backyard sleepover he had planned, but in lockdown, Housepartying with his mates (who he’s barely seen this year) playing Fortnite. Guess it will be memorable for a completely different reason.

But I say we don’t cancel all these milestones, we just postpone… even if Schoolies becomes Toolies and 40ths become 41sts. Let’s still plan these fun occasions, because planning is half the fun.

No pressure, 2021. But we are coming in hot.

Carrie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm weeknights on Network 10, and Carrie & Tommy, 3pm weekdays on the Hit Network.


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