As we speak, I am perched atop my narrow bed, scorching my tongue on some sleepytime tea in my favorite cracked mug, which only spills three drops every time I fill it, so I figure it’s still worth using, and listening to a record on my new record which is decidedly not “Benjamin Britten Conducts Mozart” as the cover says, but a rather off-key collection of classical Christmas music. Somehow that makes me even happier than Benjamin Britten conducting Mozart. My face is covered in a ghostly sheet mask which makes sipping the tea rather tricky, but which I hope will defeat the relics of the sunburn I acquired during my recent stint in the California sunshine. Basically, I’ve got the ideal set up here, don’t you agree?
But let’s get to the topic at hand, the scary three-oh. There isn’t much to make you reevaluate all your choices and accomplishments and realize how very little you’ve done yet with your life like hitting another decade. From the wisdom of my upper twenties I scoffed at the thought of minding this birthday, but when it came around the bend, I found myself quailing with the best of them. It’s hard not to, when the next step after this is middle age and you haven’t yet reached many of the measures of success which culture holds up for you.
Still, since the dread age actually arrived, I have found myself astonished at the abundance of goodness it has held for me. From an actual, flesh-and-blood visit by an actual, flesh-and-blood sister and her kin (showing the kiddies the city was so fun!), to a veritable outpouring of gifts and cards from family and friends and friends I didn’t even know I had, to the not-so-surprise birthday evening my roommate threw for me (pineapple themed of course), to the absolutely golden trip I just had to California with my tribe, to other blessings upon blessings coming up in my life, it’s been pretty stellar, I have to say. You all were the kindest, with your cards and presents and well wishes and visits. Thank you and thank you.
So, sometime in my twenties I compiled a list called “Thirty Before Thirty”, which, you guessed it, was thirty things I wanted to accomplish before my thirtieth birthday. And guess what. I almost did it! There were only three or four I didn’t accomplish, and they were the sort of thing like writing a book (does a draft count?) and learning French (does, “Oui oui, mon ami, je m’appelle Lafayette!” count?). I also wanted to up and hie off to an airport with a little backpack, find an agent, and buy the cheapest flight anywhere, for a night or two. Even though it would probably be to Cincinnati or something- let’s be real- I still want to do this someday just for the adventure of it. Besides, I bet you I could find something charming to see even in Cincinnati.
Would you like to see some of the things I did accomplish?
- See a Broadway show (I’ve seen several, but the Phantom will probably forever be the best.)
- Volunteer at a medical place (Made friends with the nuns at the free clinic in Mocksville. Highly recommend.)
- Live alone
- Try foie gras (in Paris, where the waiter clucked disapprovingly until we had finished Every Last Crumb.)
- Live in or around NYC
- Run a 5k (ha. ha.)
- Learn one dance well (Salsa lesson for the win. One of the best things I ever did.)
- Donate blood (And over-exert myself afterward. Check.)
- Sing in the BT Choir (I got a brief six months before The Great Upset. Still, I’ll sing again.)
- Do a long solo driving trip (It wasn’t that long, but I nearly enough perished to count it.)
- Make a habit of being fearless (Much easier written than accomplished.)
- Have high tea (drunk in rainy Oxford, and it warmed our icy bones something wonderful, and still warms my heart to this day.)
Isn’t it fun? Of course the list was far longer, but that gives you a pretty good taste. Being rather a
pro of addict of to-do lists, I tried to have a reasonable mix of small and large things, so I could actually check most of them off and still feel accomplished, which worked rather nicely.
And now, as I face the promising next few months, packed with several delightful things and autumn on its way, now comes the joy of compiling a “Forty Before Forty” list, starting with a couple items I didn’t quite complete last decade. Finish that doggone book. Acquire a wobbly but working knowledge of French. Maybe read a hundred books in a year sometime. Figure out how to paint. And people, I want your suggestions! Be reasonable or be ridiculous; I want them all.
Here’s to the next adventures!