Saturday, 20 October 2012

50


When I was born, it was in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis.  Even on the far edges of the earth, there was fear.  My mother remembers the nurses at the hospital wondering if there would be war, and if they would need to go.  I of course was oblivious to this, having turned up eventually, about a week late.  Life was all about eating and sleeping (perhaps little has changed).

When I turned 10, I was just a kid.  A kid who was just getting to do exciting stuff:  Girl Guides, piano and dance, netball.  Well, that’s as much exciting stuff that you can do living in the country, in a two-room school with only about 45 kids aged from 5 to 13.  Summers were endless.  Winters were full of frozen puddles to jump in and giggle as the ice broke.   Birthdays were spent with my parents, sisters, and grandmother.  Life was carefree, fun, full of prospects.

When I turned 20, I was in the midst of my third year exams at university, the exams that would see me graduate with a BA in History and Political Science, which would see me become the first member of my extended family with a university degree.  There were opportunities for women, and I had met a wonderful man I would eventually commit to spending the rest of my life with.  Life was exciting. On my birthday, I cooked dinner for some friends, and we drank wine and Baileys (not together).  Life was looking good.  

When I turned 30, in Bangkok, I had three birthday parties.  One for each decade.  Two were surprises – a posh lunch at my favourite hotel in the world with a couple of friends and the hotel manager (also a friend), and later pizza with many of the Embassy staff, including most of the local staff (with whom I was privileged to have a special relationship).  And the third I hosted myself at our apartment, a barbecue by the pool.  Work was stimulating, we lived in one of the great cities of the world, and there was Thai food.  Life was good.

When I turned 40, I had recently quit my job in an effort to set up a business and be self-employed, and hopefully become a mother.  But I had suffered dengue fever, and experienced my first ectopic pregnancy, and had scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist for a few days after my birthday.  Life was more uncertain.  But I knew more about what I wanted than ever before, and I knew what I was and wasn’t prepared to do to achieve it.  I invited some friends over and cooked them dinner.  It was very low key, but we had good food (if I do say so myself), and good wine, and good company.  Life was still exciting, but it was now scary too. 

Today I turn 50.  Life is getting shorter.  I’m on the downhill slide.  I bear no illusions that I will be that small number for whom 50 is half-way.  I have seen the aging begin – the hair has long since been coloured to hide the grey, the lines on the face are arriving.  50 is scary.  Really scary.  I can’t say I’m thrilled about 50.  But I’ll adjust.  At 50, I know the the things I’ll never do.  I’m okay with them, the what-might-have-beens.  Life has had its disappointments, but it has its unexpected rewards too.  I’d rather concentrate on them, on what I can do, on what I want to do, on the type of person I am, and on who I have in my life. 

I’m not cooking dinner tonight.  We have a reservation at a prestigious restaurant, set in  wine lands, surrounding by dramatic mountains, in a vast vast land.  There will be champagne.  And I’ll have my husband.  He’s all I need tonight.  And it’s not just because he has the Visa card.


15 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday!!!! I love how you started this with your birth around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.... and so now at 50 you are writing a blog, read and very much appreciated by a Cuban born a bit after the Cuban Missile Crisis. :)

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  2. Happy birthday! You're night sounds amazing. I hope you enjoy it!

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  3. enjoy the birthday dinner and evening!!

    Oh how I loved this post. and the never one on the other blog.

    and here is to NZ...when you say dinner in wine lands surrounded by dramatic mountains, I love that many places come to mind for me! all lovely. Enjoy!

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  4. Happy Birthday! (A little late.) I hope you had a lovely dinner and eveing.

    Your post got me thinking about my own life, both past and future, and how I cannot know what the road ahead will hold.

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  5. Happy birthday to you!!! Wishing you a wonderful year ahead with plenty of adventures! :-)

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  6. Loved that snapshot of the decade birthdays. I think I wished you happy birthday in a previous post but what the hell, I'll do it again, on the actual day.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! hope it rocks, in all the right ways!

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  7. Hope you're basking in the glow of a wonderful evening! Happy belated birthday. I'm just eight months away from this milestone and glad to be on the path alongside you.

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  8. Happy Birthday! I hope you had a great day.

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  9. Powerful post. Sending you birthday wishes. Can't wait to hear your update 10 years from now, to remember 50 with you.

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  10. Happy (belated) birthday wishes! I'm just catching up on blog reading this week and sorry I missed this. However, I really enjoyed reading this post and am totally inspired by your birthday setting! I hope to be in a similar scenario when my 50th rocks around.

    I guess new fears replace the old, such is the circular nature of our lives. But it is really something special to be able to learn about your experiences through your blog - and I'll be looking forward to seeing how your next decade pans out.

    All the best!!

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  11. Happy belated milestone!! I loved this post too -- even though we grew up in very different parts of the world, there's a lot I can relate to here. ; ) Hope you are having a fabulous time on your trip!

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  12. I know I'm late to your birthday party, but many, many happy returns. I hope your celebration was as wonderful as it sounds. :-)

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  13. Happy Belated Birthday! I am pretty sure 50 will be a fabulous year for you. It might be in the 2nd half of life, but the knowledge, wisdom and experiences you've gained to this point in life continue to make your life better and better. Loved this look back at the decades.

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