I’ve been drafting this post a long time. And now we’ve come up on my birthday. I’m turning 40. There’s a shit ton of refection going on up in here lately.
Here’s what I start with: Mean Girls was released & Friends ended ten years ago. And you may have heard, Facebook hit the double digits earlier this year. Yes, it’s been a decade since “Facebook Me” became a thing.
Between the Lookback movies and all the other fecking walks down memory lane, coupled with the birthday milestone, I’ve been thinking about the past decade. My 30’s.
10 years ago EVERYTHING in my life was different.
- I’d not even MET my husband, in fact we were both in long term committed relationships elsewhere.
- I smoked at least a half a pack of cigarettes a day.
- I used AOL messenger. Like every day. All day long.
- I don’t think I even had a MySpace account yet!
- I had my gall bladder.
- I had only had one knee reconstructed at that point.
- I still wore high heels with regularity.
- I worked in the garment industry.
- I was actually still in my first job, in my first apartment in NYC. (2nd roommate though)
- I was still in my 20’s – barely, but it counts.
If you’ve been around a bit you know that 10 years ago, just a few days before my 30th birthday, my mom died. That summer, that year really, was especially depressing for most of my friends in NYC. I would come to refer to it as the year of death. Personally I lost my mom, then my aunt, and finally a very dear older cousin all in the same year. My grandfather had died less than a year before, so in about 18 months my maternal grandmother lost her entire family.
But it was more than the deaths in my family that made it the Year of Death. It seemed like everyone in my close circle of friends had someone die. We went to an excruciating number of funerals that year. I can think of at least a half dozen without really trying.
So I can honestly say turning “the big 3-0” didn’t really bother me. I never really thought about it at all because there was so much else going on. It was barely celebrated, in fact. SisterCat got married the day before, another friend (M.Princess) was leaving with her new husband for Seattle the next morning & we buried my mom just a few days after. SisterCat & the rest of my closest friends threw me a small party in the garden of our favorite bar, I think we went out for dinner & said a bunch of goodbyes in a parking lot.
At the time my mom died I was unemployed & had been for a few months. I was ok with getting let go because I had been ready to leave the job. As it happened it allowed me the time to go back and forth from NY to WV in the month or so that Mom was sick before she died. Then it meant I had no real restrictions on going down south to help my dad out.
When I did finally go back to work it was at a job I had passed on the first time it was offered to me. Mom had been alive and we had discussed all my reservations and she supported my waiting to find something better. Eventually, after she was gone, I took it because I needed to work and I really didn’t care any more.
Obviously, my mother’s death was a turning point in my life. I am not alone in this phenomena. But 30 was really a lousy year. The next few years really didn’t get better. Although for many of my friends the following year was full of weddings and then babies, I basically stayed in a holding pattern for the better (or worse) part of 4 years.
Finally, 4 full years after my mom died I started to come out of the fog of grief. I started to want to heal. I still struggled to pull myself out of the rut I had found myself in. For years and years I’d been compounding my grief with poor choices and self-medication and destructive behavior. And so slowly, one thing at a time, I changed. Everything.
This will sound hokey to some, but it’s true & I’m about being honest. I literally invited positive energy into my life through learning to practice Reiki
. That led me to be (finally) ready to try Bikram Yoga when an old friend invited me for the zillionth time. Through the combined practice of yoga & Reiki I shed pounds, from my body, yes, but also from my soul. I shed destructive relationships, which allowed me to be open to new relationships.
Not remarkably, my husband and I met in that 4th year. My year of change. A year of change for him as well. We were only just in each other’s line of vision – I don’t think either of us would say it was love at first sight.
By the time we coupled up, months had passed & I felt like I was a different person from the one who’d first met him. And then suddenly there was no other path. It was as if all those changes had prepared me for this life with him. The last 5 years have been a whirlwind of love, babies, weddings, new beginnings, more new beginnings & yes, even some loss.
There’s a part in my favorite song, Watershed, that goes:
“Well there’s always retrospect to light a clearer path. Every five years or so I look back on my life and I have a good laugh.
Ya know what? Decade long milestones are fine for all the movies, shows, social media & music that provide the backdrop to our lives. But Life moves far too quickly, and those real turning points in our lives fly by faster than we realize.
I’m alright with 40. Honestly I think I’m finally starting to come into my own.
Wonder what I’ll think of that statement when I’m turning 45.
A clip of the Indigo Girls performing Watershed on The Tonight Show from 1991. Love Love Love
Thought I knew my mind like the back of my hand,
The gold and the rainbow, but nothing panned out as I planned.
And they say only milk and honey’s gonna make your soul satisfied!
Well I better learn how to swim
Cause the crossing is chilly and wide.
Twisted guardrail on the highway, broken glass on the cement
A ghost of someone’s tragedy
How recklessly my time has been spent.
And they say that it’s never too late, but you don’t get any younger!
Well I better learn how to starve the emptiness
And feed the hunger
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agony’s your heaviest load.
You’ll never fly as the crow flies, get used to a country mile.
When you’re learning to face the path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while.
Well there’s always retrospect to light a clearer path
Every five years or so I look back on my life
And I have a good laugh.
You start at the top, go full circle round
Catch a breeze, take a spill
But ending up where i started again makes me wanna stand still.
Stepping on a crack, breaking up and looking back
Every tree limb overhead just seems to sit and wait.
Until every step you take becomes a twist of fate.