My father started the litany. I was barely awake and still buried under the covers when I was greeted with a birthday wish that started “I can’t believe I have such an old daughter”. A former boyfriend and still very dear friend was even more catastrophic “The only saving grace at your age is knowing the end is near”. I suppose he was trying to be funny or else reminding me he is still younger. My sister left a cheery message from Formentera “You are soooo old”. I know most of it is in jest but I really think we are all trying to wrap our heads around the passing of time which has caught on unexpectedly, right when we thought the party could go on forever.
I am still two years short of the half century mark and my bucket list is still so long I will have to take the time to re-organize it in order of priority. Three years ago, at the beginning of my two “anni horribilis” to quote old Liz, I started a ritual I still abide to on my birthday. I go out and spend an inordinate amount of money I tend not to have on something that will give me pleasure. It started innocently enough with a Prada bag that was marked half price, the notion of snapping up such a bargain so pleased me that I failed to check the price tag (conspicuously hidden in an inner pocket) – at the register I had to swallow hard and pray my card would go through. It took me 3 months to pay my friends at VISA back. But I wear it proudly to this day.
Last year I began worshipping at the altar of Steve Jobs and bought myself my trusted MacBookPro, that has since become one of my best friends. This year I set my sights on something more modest, in price at least, an i-phone, to finally replace my pre-historic piece of crap. To that I added a hair cut and a semi permanent color to hide the first grays – all in all, it came to more than the phone and I spent two hours trying to look as if I just got out of bed. As if…But I look terribly cute, for a few hours at least.
The reason why I don’t feel guilty in the slightest in splurging out for myself is that I am frugal Sally the rest of the year. When my Italian girlfriends gave me some workout clothes I had to admit that most of my yoga pants have seen better days and the Chanel nail polish my friend Margaret sent me reminded me that the last bottle of polish I have was gifted to me three years ago. You get the idea.
Not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I like to look at birthdays as new beginnings and, beside the list that includes trips to India, a manuscript by December, the Victoria Waterfalls and so forth, what I really want for myself this coming year is to be fearless every minute of every day. Because fear leads to bad decisions, to immobility and to not much fun.
I found a tiny bird on my patio this morning at dawn – he was lying on his side, fluttering his wings, unable to get up. I thought a wing or a leg might be broken but when I gently turned him over with a finger, he took a couple of steps and flew away. All he needed was some gentle nudging. Fearlessness is all the nudging that I need together with the embrace of all the friends and family, from three continents, who took the time to call and write out of love (and some out of the dire consequences they know they will befall them should they ever forget!). I hope I will be able to give as much as I got in the 365 days to come – or the time I have left to think of my next birthday gift..