Last week I turned 45 and it was not so bad. Actually, the birthday itself was really great. I got to have two days' worth of birthday wishes--my Australian birthday and my American one. G had conducted sneaky reconnaissance on my Pinterest boards and thoughtfully chose some things that I had been secretly (but not so secretly, after all) pining for:
- three stacking rings ("one for each child!" I happily exclaimed when I unwrapped them. "....Um, yeah!" Greg almost successfully improvised),
- a wooden pineapple-shaped chalkboard (apparently Sam, G's gift-selecting apprentice, suggested it since I sometimes text a trademark celebratory pineapple emoji to my kids),
- artisan chocolate,
- a luscious German fountain pen.
That guy is pretty fluent in my love languages, one of which is thoughtful (not expensive, not outrageous, just lovingly selected) gift giving. He's practically a native speaker by now.
And yet 45 was super hard. I've planted it in my head that it is pretty much smack dab middle age. And it kind of is, you know?( If I'm lucky, that is.) It feels like a time for re-evaluation and recalibration and reorientation. Lots of re. A time to wash the metaphorical laundry midway through this mortal journey and to figure out the path ahead. I can newly relate to Dante's opening lines:
In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself astray in a dark wood
where the straight road had been lost
G and I went to lunch that day and I fessed up that that particular moment--this noontime on my 45th birthday--marked the apex of my life. All downhill from here, buddy. But then we decided we can make the next 45 years pretty spectacular, regardless. (And, after all, he's already blazing the trail for me at 47.)
It's just a day, this birthday, another in the long string of days I'm blessed to have. Still, it has me a bit more tender than usual. Passages in books have me weepy with love for the beauty of words and the accompanying twinge to string together a few of my own--almost an anticipatory regret if I don't find my voice and just do it. Case in point: can I have Wendell Berry's talent next time around?
I'm hoping that these words from his character Hannah Coulter (in the novel of the same name) might apply to me soon: "I began to know my story then." 45 sounds as good a time as any.