So it’s my birthday. A birthday I have looked to for years. To most people, 44 is a pretty nondescript age. You’re still just barely on the far edge of your early forties, with 50 starting to look slightly closer. You don’t mind things like having to work on your birthday or even your husband having to be out of town for a whole weekend starting with your birthday because well, things like that happen and you’re grateful you have jobs to go to. It also means you can stretch the celebration out longer. You’re very much mired down in being a grown up – good, bad and sometimes wondering how the hell anyone takes you seriously as a responsible adult not to mention wondering how and when did that actually happen. There are new aches and pains – ones that you realize probably aren’t going to go away anytime soon. Your bad knee can correctly predict rain as well as a good frost and you can tell the difference by the ache.
44 is the age my father was when he passed away. Now I know I am not my father and to be honest, part of why we eat the way we do – mostly vegetarian, local & organic with lots of whole grains – as well as my exercise habits, even my attitude that my life is way too short to deal with most bullshit is a direct result of his death of a heart attack at such a young age. I know there some things that are genetic, but taking care of yourself is a good start to avoid letting those conditions come to a full bloom and I have spent most of my adult life doing just that.
As this birthday has approached, I have spent the last few months taking stock of my life, looking at what I’ve done and where I’m going. I’ve spent way too much time focusing on what I don’t have – a career of any sort and consequently, a big fat bank account that would (theoretically) be one of the rewards of a career. I don’t regret putting my family first though. I actually have very few regrets and besides, what’s the point? You can’t go back and change things. It’s a waste of energy to look back and say ‘what if?’ you can only look at where you are now and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You can change the current path you’re on, but not by going backwards.
I look around me and see our network of friends and neighbors that I know I can depend on no matter what. I have girlfriends that when I tell them my birthday is Friday and Pat has to be away for work and won’t they come have a drink with me, reply simply “with bells on”. My Edie, determined to do her part to help me celebrate, has invited part of the ever present girl gang over for a sleepover to help celebrate too.
I might not have a career anywhere near what I thought I was going to have with my interior design degree, but there is a fairly good sized contingent of neighborhood kids that know in a pinch, they can call or knock on my door for help with homework, lemon squares, to borrow tools, even grab a ride somewhere, because I’m always around. All the different jobs I’ve had over the years have given me a network full of foodies, designers and just Charlottesville types that you see around town. I’m starting to realize I might just be one of those Charlottesville types you see everywhere around town. Despite swearing up one side and down the other I was never going to be a soccer mom nor would I ever set foot in a PTO meeting, I am somehow PTO president and quite the enthusiastic soccer mom. My obsession with knowing exactly where our food comes from has not just resulted in me getting to know a few area farmers but landed me on the board of the local non-profit that works in support of the local farmers market. It’s also helped me become a canning instructor, which is actually one of the few things about myself I think lives up to the hype.
Best of all, I have Pat & Edie. Pat is my knight in shining armor – he is always coming to the rescue, almost always able to fix whatever needs fixing. He is my soul mate, my favorite drinking buddy, the person I love doing things the most with, the last person I want to talk to at night. He is my rock. And Edie girl? She is the best thing I have done with my life, next to marrying Pat.
Sliding into this birthday of mine, the last month has been one thing after another, leaving me slightly worried it was a forewarning to the next year. Thankfully, things seemed to have turned a corner recently, so maybe that’s how the year is going to go, which would be awfully nice. Either way, I’m ready to get through this year, to see what cards fate has in store for me. I’m hoping it’s a pretty nondescript year, I’m hoping this holding my breath about this year for so long will have proven to be much ado about nothing.
It’s a weird thing to outlive your parents. They are our blue prints for so much of our lives – the measuring stick by which we do or don’t do things and to come to the end of the line of one of them, well, it creates quite a bit of food for thought.
Here’s to 44.