It is the night before my 40th birthday and I was unceremoniously puttering: sweeping the kitchen floor, ordering photo books online, making a lunch date, catching up with my best friend on the phone, all while wearing a very old but very warm man-size Patagonia fleece jacket because it is cold in the casita. Instead of running, (yep, hooky again, there goes my PR on Sunday for the trail-run half… hmphf, or maybe not!) I ate an entire order of pad thai because I can and it was delicious and I was really hungry and then the puttering. Puttering usually spurs on some writing, but instead of being on mile four with no computer I can stop and compose and so I am.
So again, it is my 40th birthday eve. And I am equally unaffected as I am amazed that I am the age when I have a vivid memory of both my parents on their 40th birthdays and at that time (ages 8 and 12 respectively), they seemed both old and ageless all at once. Perhaps that is the magic of 40; it is the fulcrum for looking back and forward with a sense of balance.
As I was sweeping, I thought about my 30th birthday and the party I had to celebrate it. My best friend and I have our birthdays nine days apart, so for our 30th, we went retro and rented out a roller rink, brought in a keg and booze and put our friends and family in skates. It was a blast and a half. (I expect to come across all those photos in the coming weeks as I am doing a much-needed photo and memorabilia project for December. No tree for me this year!) We all got drunk, did all the groovy skate-dances, fell down hard and laughed even harder. Other than the ridiculous fight my then boyfriend-soon-to-be-husband-finally-to-be-ex-husband picked with me right before it started, it was a damn fine time.
And then, a month later, I got fired. Welcome to adulthood!
I had never been fired before and have never been fired since and it was a big ol’ political nightmare mess, and even though I HATED the job, I was pretty shocked and devastated for the first several days which also included having my boyfriend’s 11 year old Golden Retriever die in my arms on the beach. I remember feeling angry that I didn’t get to quit (although I had never done that before either) and that even though I had been pondering a whole massive change in my career path during those six months especially leading up to the sacking, it never entered into my carefully laid plans that I would have to face it with such urgency and a really bruised ego. Many friends and colleagues who had been humiliated with a firing before me were stupendously supportive and wise and funny and checking my availability for their next jobs.
There I was, fired at age 30, but with a great resume, a big, fat Filofax of contacts, wonderful friends and that boyfriend. My 40 year old self would have had a very serious talk with my 30 year old self once I saw how she so expertly stuffed important information about feelings and anxieties and ideas and dreams and concerns way down where he or anyone else could not find them. My 40 year old self would have very tenderly told my 30 year old self to take a few months off, go see family in New York, New Mexico and also go to Italy for chrissakes instead of toddling along to be on location with her boyfriend, at his beck and call. My 40 year old self could have talked my 30 year old self into it. She is the only one who knew how bad it was when no one else was around.
But, I had to get to 40 to learn how to be kind and gentle to my 30 year old self simply by passing through all the years of strife and joy from then to now. I now know just how spooked and anxious and impatient I was for so many of those early years in my 30’s and how that led to several really bad decisions. Becoming 40 is a relief and a gift. My 40’s are forgiving my 30’s. And if I hurt or confused anyone dear to me along the way, please forgive my 30’s as well.
Now to get this financial mess sorted once and for all. It has to be done in the next three weeks. Nothing like a good solid deadline to keep me focused.
(And Italy, I am coming to see you as soon as I can.)