time

I’m Embracing Mariah Carey’s Concept of Time

Photo: MirageC/Getty Images

Mariah Carey is 12 years old. At least, that’s the age she chose to celebrate this year. And the year before that. Why anyone would want to be an eternal preteen is beyond me, but seeing that this is Mariah Carey we’re talking about, I’m going to respect it. Now more than ever, her concept of time seems worth embracing.

Mariah Carey has refused to acknowledge time for some time now. She refers to her birthdays simply as an “anniversaries,” and there’s debate online about what year she was actually born. Unlike everyone else right now, she will not be showing you what she looked like at 20, because Mariah Carey was never 20; Mariah Carey is 12. One cannot “throw back” if one has never aged at all.

Mariah Carey’s hair-flip dismissal of calendars is in keeping with her well-cultivated diva persona. It’s beyond “time blindness” — it’s a bold-faced “I don’t know her” to death herself. In this moment, where time has become both precious and interminable — a slow celebrity walk on loop — I envy her ability to simply ignore it.

Today is my birthday. What if, like Mariah Carey, I just decided not to count it? I’ve seen others opt for blissful denial over surprise Zoom parties. “We’ll celebrate on the other side,” they say, which seems like the best, if not only, option right now. (Your birthday is one day, yes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be postponed.) The genius of Mariah Carey’s method is that it gives you the chance to celebrate being alive without ever having to acknowledge time passing. Let’s be honest — birthdays aren’t even really about age, anyway — they’re about you.

Maybe the idea, then, is not ignoring time completely but picking a moment you like and never letting go. Twenty-five was a good year for me — I discovered martinis and got a credit card (and a job at the Cut) — so I guess I’ll hang on to that. In a way, sticking a birthday candle into the mud allows you to see clearly, year after year, how good you still have it.

I’m Embracing Mariah Carey’s Concept of Time