Last week I turned 40, yeah, 40 years old. Half of my natural life over and gone. I can’t say that I feel that old and inside I have this perpetual state of being in my mid-twenties despite it being a rocky re-entry into life as I knew it. I went away to a cottage in the woods with my darling and we immersed ourselves in just being together uninterrupted. Everything was green and alive. There was laughter and tender moments, sex and silence, and the feeling of unspoken understanding that we have found each other in this life. It sounds all mushy right? It isn’t hokey like that, but true in the honest my-heart-beats-in-your-direction sort of way.
This time last year we lost a lot of people in our lives….mother, aunt, cousin, co-workers, friends. It was dark and filled with dread at another sad phone call or email. This time around much of that was lifted. We honored our dead with living our own lives fully, because that is all we really can do.
Turning 40 has made me really look at my life so far. I can peer over my shoulder at all the misery and hardship I waded through to get to this moment and feel like I earned it in a non-entitled sort of way. I paid my dues to life, but always believed it would be better around the next corner. I had to believe that to keep going sometimes. Hope kept me alive on more than one occasion.
In the two years that Michael has been in my life I have accomplished more than I could have ever dreamed for myself. I have relaxed and taken time for me. I have become a better parent. I have built up confidence which has allowed me to achieve more recognition at work and be more present in my own life. I have learned to love every day no matter what happens. I see in Michael the most brilliant and connected reflection of myself. He knows how to make me laugh even when I am being stubbornly gloomy and isolated. I love him. I’m not really sure what the second half of my life would have been like without him. I can’t bear to think about it.
To me, 40 is about living. It is laughing and loving every minute of the day. It is learning to let go of my motherly control over my child and let her spread her wings a bit. It is about achieving new levels at work. It is letting go of needing to be a “writer” and just understanding that 30 years of poems were what allowed me to move forward. It is about accepting compliments and building friendships. It is about completing goals I have been carrying around for years. It is about reaching out to my father, again, in hopes that we can salvage some meager relationship before either of us dies. 40 feels grown up in some ways, but in others it feels like freedom.
Here is to getting older. I raise my cup o tea in your general direction. Bless this life I’m living. I wouldn’t have written it any differently. I have loved and hated every moment in the most tender of ways. That is what life is supposed to be….falling and getting up again a bit stronger than the time before. Enjoy it.