Tomorrow, I will turn 40.
These are things that I have done since I turned 39 (in rough chronological order):
– co-ordinated grandfather’s move into aged accommodation (aged in many senses, he’ll have a new room soon) and in the process got to know an aunty, some cousins, myself, my grandparents and my mother a whole lot better;
– waved my youngest child off to school;
– performed in the Adelaide Fringe Festival for the first time, being a standup comedian;
– discovered the reason underlying our secondary infertility;
– redrafted novel, creating a much more substantial work;
– became regional president of amnesty and rejoined national board;
– went out for tea with my father and brother to mark the occasion of my mother’s birthday, not realising that would be the last time I saw my dad out of bed;
– co-ordinated preparation and sale of grandfather’s house;
– got selected as part of Australian delegation to amnesty’s 2009 international meeting;
– watched father die;
– realised I have no parents;
– settled grandfather’s house;
– spoke at father’s funeral;
– stayed home for a month alone with children while the mister went to abu dhabi;
– another draft;
– tried to pack up childhood home;
– survived Christmas;
– moved to abu dhabi (thus giving up much-loved place on amnesty board and icm delegation);
– corrected proofs and admired the cover of my soon-to-be novel.
Of course there were other things: got sent ‘want to knit’ texts at just the right time; cuddled with boys on lounge; watched all of West Wing; got impatient with patient mister; bought self a lovely pendant from Zu designers; got cared for by the mister, my boys, friends, cousins, in-laws, uncles and aunts; ran on a Kangaroo Island beach, folded washing; drank too much; drove self crazy listening to self-righteous dudes on local abc mornings etcetera etcetera etcetera.
I don’t think it’s right to draw lines under dates – just because a new year begins doesn’t really mean the old one ends. But it’s hard not to feel that I’m moving into a new time, that I’m different now to what I was. I’m trying not to define things as good or bad, but they’ve been a big couple of years.
When I was in my twenties, it was all about creating experiences – be on this committee, go to that country, learn this language, get this degree. I’m still like that, but not so much. Not at all really. I’ve ended up travelling again, but that has not come from any Grand Plan, it’s just kind of arrived.
The experiences have begun to create themselves I guess.
The differences in me? Greying and with semi-permanent glasses obviously. But there’s other things. I’m stronger now than I ever have been before. Tired (exhausted, really), of course, but stronger nonetheless. And while I worry about things, about all the things that could still go wrong, I don’t think I’m so afraid as I used to be (note to universe – by writing this, I do not mean ‘bring it on’, not at all, thank you for listening to this bit universe).
What I really like about age is the depth that it gives to relationships. Even in those family relationships that remain complex, time and experience have given them a value that transcends complexity. Intimate friendships are firm and certain and have become as invaluable, as inextricable, as family. And then there’s the mister, of course. And my boys. That’s what I like about age.
Also, I happen to know – because youngest boy can not keep secrets however much he is coached – I’m getting an ace present. ‘And we didn’t go in the jewellery shop, Mum’.
See you on the other side.