Tripping Around the Sun
I published my first blog post the day before my 33rd birthday. It's sort of cute but not mind-blowing. That was just about eight years ago exactly. Quick! Do the math!
Today is my 41st birthday, and rather than ebullient I tend to get reflective on my birthday so I thought i'd blow the dust off this thing and clear the cobwebs from my middle-aged brain. When exactly does middle age start anyway? Is it 42, 45? When you start singing Lionel Richie tunes in the shower? When you find the first gray hair in your eyebrow? Cause that literally happened yesterday. My biology has a strong sense of humor.
I'm about 30 minutes into 41, and so far, I like it. I woke up this morning to find three yellow roses laid on top of my computer, right in the window of the rising sun. At first blush it looked like my laptop was being laid to rest. Then I went to pee, and found three more roses propped against the medicine cabinet. I stumbled toward my dresser to fondle my gray eyebrow in the mirror-- and there was another one. Moved toward the kitchen for my coffee mug, there were a few more leaned against the wall, right below my beloved spice shelves. And finally- because he always knows exactly what I want-- three yellow roses hugged the top of my coffee machine. The color yellow symbolizes optimism, warmth, joy and happiness and I'm pleased to report that at this phase, on this morning, I feel all those things.
I'm writing this outside on my sliver of a patio in Queens and it is by all accounts, my happiest place. The sun warms the top of my scalp and if I weren't surrounded by so much concrete I'd swear I'd stumbled into a nature preserve--that's how loud the birds are chirping. There's a slight breeze, cool enough that I'm able to wear sweatpants, and it moves gently through the swelling rose bush and my stalks of herbs that are finally growing legs. When the wind hits the right direction, I catch the faintest hint of basil. The universe knew I was supposed to be born in June.
At 41, I get excited by the strangest things. Every time I replace an old sponge at the kitchen sink, it brings a small thrill. Each night I put on flip-flops and carry scissors into my garden to collect the fresh oregano or cilantro for that evening's dinner creation. In the mornings, before the sun is in full blaze, I water my herbs and flowers with military precision, making sure each spot is adequately tended. I hang my clothes each night on slim hangers that are all exactly the same size. These are little victories that represent a more stable, settled life.
I'm paying attention to my deepest needs and making sure I take the time to get them met. I started my own therapy and am in the midst of planning some career changes that may reduce some stress from my life. More and more, I trust and follow my instincts, even if I'm not making a popular choice. I've taken some time to get to know myself better, and I if I do say so myself, I like what I see.
Anyone who knows me knows I've been 41 forever-- for the last 20 years at least-- and it's a delight to have the rest of my peers catch up. No one wants to meet at noisy lounges anymore or grab drinks at an expensive bar until 2 am. We're content to linger on back patios or sit around in pajama pants in each other's living rooms for brunch (I'm overdue to host one by the way). Friends geek out over food with me, humor me about my love for flea markets and fruit stands, send me pictures of beautiful dishes on Instagram. I always knew I'd find comfort in this phase of life, and I'm feeling good about the ground I'm standing on.
Last night, Vinny and I sat in our front yard on two orange chairs, one of which was a gift from one of my best friends several birthdays ago. We both propped cookbooks in our laps, thumbing through pages like they were magazines. Mine was a beautiful vegan book; his was, of course, a tribute to the art of making pie. The last few nights we'd heard the chimes of the Mr. Softee truck ringing down the streets and were hopeful we'd have a better chance of catching it if we waited outside.
We sat out there for an hour waiting for an ice cream truck that never came, and I'm sure if I looked hard enough I could find some type of metaphor in that. But the only thing I'll ever remember about that night is how content I was to sit in my small front yard reading cookbooks with my best pal, overlooking this quiet street in a neighborhood I love so much. At one point, I looked at my husband--who looks slightly less boyish than he used to-- and asked, "Wait, are you becoming a foodie?" Something was settling in him too. Suddenly he was captivated by a cook book and he'd recently ordered a tub of seasoning off the internet so he could cure his own Koji beef.
"I think I might be," he said, and in that moment, all my birthday wishes came true.