Sunday felt like a good day to have a birthday, and coincidentally, it was my birthday. So it worked out well. It was good.
For breakfast I had chocolate cake (that I made). Friends and family texted, messaged, and called. Caroline and I discussed Alice in Borderland, which we were both watching raptly on Netflix.
And Jessica gave me a Slytherin necklace that she crafted herself, which was funny because I’d been looking for a Ravenclaw necklace to give to her for her birthday.
And she also gave me a print of Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, because she knows of my obsessions.
And I had veggie fajitas with extra guac and Mexican rice, and also a vegan New York cheesecake, complete with candles.
The day was a mystery in some sense. It was different than last year when I woke up on my 51st birthday feeling ever more slightly like an undead being than I did the year before, refreshed in the wake of the full half-century disappearing like vapor behind me.
On Sunday, I turned 52 and woke up in quiet surreality.
I feel like a stalactite made of lava, suspended and piercing. Or like a splinter of glass, crushable and dangerous. I don’t feel older, though it’s not an age or a span of time that I’m feeling. It’s a jolt.
Remembering how I proclaimed my satisfaction with past decades when I was in them. I liked aging in an abstract way, is what it was, and now what’s left is hindsight exposing the gruesome underpinnings of those years.
My 30’s, for instance.
Saying in the moment that I loved my 30’s even as I hated my high-paying job and woke up every week day already stressed out and unhappy about going in. Resenting Sunday because it forced me to think about going back to work the next day. Sick, sick, sick with autoimmune bullshit riled up by stress. Way too thin. I think back on it now and feel absurd. “I love my 30’s.”
It would be in someone else’s dream, if anyone’s at all, that I’d choose a radically different sort of job at 51 and love it and look forward to going to work every day because it’s fun and not a grind and not an infestation. It can’t be real to enjoy getting ready for the work week on Sunday, and yet it is. I used to suppose that everyone disliked Sunday for its portent of Monday. My experience now is the opposite, so I know that this isn’t true.
This (job) is one of the few great things that happened in the year that I was 51, this past year, 2020, which will otherwise go down in history as damned.
52 and rid of the expectations that weighed like some obscene diamond-encrusted piano on parchment throughout my previous decades.
30’s: too old to qualify as a young adult, too young to qualify as an older adult. 30 being a milestone birthday heralded either by keen anticipation or foreboding doom. One way or the other, everyone feels some kind of way about turning 30. It’s a big deal to exit your 20’s.
I can see now that with my 30’s came a shadowy trickster of expectations of various sorts. And uncertainty and self-doubt and wondering is this it and shouldn’t I be doing (fill in the blank). And all kinds of clocks, each one telling time through the perspective and ideals of others, muddling my own sense of being in relation to the concept of time, and what I really wanted, and where I was in my life. My life.
For me, 50 was the more (most) impactful milestone birthday, and this decade isn’t terrible, as an ageist society might have you think. My (big life) decision-making skills are still (somewhat) lacking, but I’m proud of my survival skills, grateful for good luck (which I’ve needed due to said not-great decision-making skills). And it’s a relief to be an older adult now, no longer an adult in limbo. No longer an adult under scrutiny.
At 52, the expectations of others have mostly dispersed. I’m past the age….
Well, for me (as for most women), the big expectation was the having-babies one. Now I’m in my 50’s and people ask if I have kids and I say “no, not human ones” and it ends there, no follow-up questions. (But you DO want to have kids someday, don’t you?) At 52, I don’t have to explain that I had my spawning parts removed long ago, or why. At 52, there’s no need for clarification, no sequel of assumption or indignation, because there can’t be. “OH. Dual Income No Kids.” Or “You don’t want kids? WHY NOT?” As if living a childfree life was a sin, or at least a personal affront. Such judgment has ceased to matter. The question of babies was a bomb that finally fizzled out when I turned 50.
52, safely in my fifth decade and enjoying the fizzling-out of such questions and comments. Aging out of the window of expectations has been freeing.
Freedom in unexpected forms comes with being an older adult, I’m finding. That’s what they don’t tell you about aging. That things start to make sense. That you can develop more of an indifference to what others may think of you. That the way out is through. My 50’s are my reward for getting through my 30’s.
So my birthday was good. I got a lot of love. I didn’t hear from certain immediate west coast family members, but I couldn’t say that I was surprised, sadly, and overall it was too gorgeous a day to be crushed by the not-hearing-from.
And I’m continuing to work on my decision-making skills.
Happy belated Birthday to me.
A couple of b-day selfies on my way out!
I look like a floating face. ^ haha
Next time I come back here to post it’ll be January 2nd, so Happy New Year, my friends! 2021!!!