It Was Forty Years Ago Today

I’ve been reflecting on many things as I enter my fourth decade on the planet. I never thought this is where I’d wind up: living in Northern CA, woefully underemployed, single, and way fatter than I should be.

Funny thing is, I feel so far from 40 that it’s shocking. This morning I woke up early, all excited and giggly, just as I did when I was still in the single digits. When a birthday meant a pizza party with your friend at Shakey‘s or cake and ice cream at Farrell’s, the drum pounding loudly and the sirens blaring as the servers rushed to your table with a blazing confection. When you’d finally get to unwrap the growing pile of presents sitting at the end of the dining room table, including a couple brown parcels from family who live far away. When the day felt so full of fun and the year ahead full of promise and opportunity.

I’m glad I feel so ecstatic and hopeful today, as opposed to the mood swings over the last couple months that I’ve been chalking up to a mid-life crisis. But as frustrating and painful as those moments of “what am I doing with my life, what does it all mean” have been, they have also forced me to be honest with myself about what the last forty years have brought me.

I’m not in a serious relationship, but I’m much more clear with my boundaries and I’m not tolerating bullshit from anyone I date the way I used to do.

I don’t have a full-time job, but I’ve gotten to work in several industries I was interested in, and I learned a lot about my abilities as a writer and publicist as a result.

Momcat is gone, and I hate that she’s not here for my big 4-0. I wonder if she would be teasing me or saying “You’re going to have to pick another age because I’m still 48.” But we were able to work out our issues several years before she died, and I am very grateful for that.

Out of all the eureka moments, the biggest epiphany to date has been in learning the value of the moment. Over the last six months my mind flashes back to experiences from my youth, my marriage, my career. I watch these memories flicker across my mental cinema and at times I long to recapture certain events on a more sensory level: the taste of Momcat’s cooking, the smell of Maryland air after a spring rainstorm, the sound of the Atlantic¬† crashing into me as I try to stay on Deena’s raft. Sometimes the effort of slipping back into those memories physically hurts. I worry that I didn’t appreciate those moments as much as I should have; that I wasn’t as present as I could have been.

Going forward, I want to remember this, that being fully engaged and present in every moment is the best gift I can give myself. I suspect awareness is also a Fountain of Youth, but I have yet to discover whether this is true. If my grandfather were still living, he’d likely say to me today, “You’re not over Fool’s Hill yet.” Nope, and you know what? That’s fine with me.

3 Replies to “It Was Forty Years Ago Today”

  1. of all the things I have tried to achieve in my life (only very slightly shorter than yours), this Being Fully Engaged business is the toughest. Because, like you, I suspect it is the key to a fulfilled (and therefore youthful) life. But damn if it ain’t hard to do!

    Happy Birthday, anyway. I’m delighted to hear that you woke up giggly, because that is in fact how EVERY birthday should begin, at 8, 48, or 88.

    Keep on being fabulous, that’s all I’ve got to say.

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