When DP, my friends from university and I were in Madrid a month ago, a lovely Spanish friend of Jennifer’s remarked that she thought I was around 27. Ha! I LOVED that. It really made my day… wait, it made my decade!
Due to an unconventional post-secondary education path, I was always a bit older than my friends at university and at Teachers’ College. Upon graduation, I entered the international teaching circuit where there will always be more foreign teachers under the age of thirty than over. I am, at last, the same age as many of the parents of my high school students.
About the time I turned 30 (experiencing only five fairly bad minutes just before midnight) Oprah, who is ten years older than I, declared that she had never felt happier or more fulfilled than she did at 40. I was filled with optimism about aging.
Ten years later I actually struggled with saying good-bye to my thirties. (DP would say that I freaked out). I had finally begun to understand why women say things like “39 and holding”… that this is not just vanity speaking. At 40, mortality appeared on my personal horizon; it does not “loom large” in the sense that I am always aware of it… but a shadow has appeared on the endless green field of my childhood. The truth is that 40 is halfway to the end. And that is if I am lucky.
DP is not afraid to die. I admire that in him. I’m not quite there yet, though.
So what does a forty-almost-something girl do about this second-halfness?
In this last week of forty-nothing, I am going to enjoy every extraordinary moment AND all of the ho-hum regular life moments too. All of it… the difficult conversations with parents about their kids flunking math, answering my e-mail (in a mostly-timely fashion), and even the washing of dirty dishes. (I try to imagine that there is something very Zen about immersing my hands in that warm sudsy water… A Margaret Atwood sort of rebirth motif).
When Saturday rolls around, bringing with it the number 41, I shall not be hosting a pity party for me and my lost youth. None of you should expect an invitation to such an event. Instead, I will be ringing in my new age in Budapest, Hungary. I will, in my new year, do the things I love… read serious literature & young adult fiction about vampires, blog, travel the world, watch moving pictures in the dark with DP, learn about culture, continue in my quest to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, send postcards, talk with interesting people, take photos of my slice of the world, and buy ridiculously beautiful jewelry. And I am going to stretch too… improve my Spanish, write more, practice yoga without falling down, and use my cookbooks as more than decorative items. For a start.
Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
What are you doing to CELEBRATE your life? Leave me a note.