Maxidoodle hugging Stephen: Because he is brilliant, because he is my friend, because he would be flattered for me to post a photo of him on my blog, because he gave me inspiration for my perfect birthday present…
My 39th birthday is just a week away. Thirty-nine feels big and heavy, more so than even 40. Perhaps because it is a “last”–the last year I will be in my thirties. I relish being in my thirties. Thirty-something felt like the perfect age–young enough but still perfectly grown-up. The lesson of the last years have been poignant and real and messy and wonderful. This last decade has been an amazing adventure. It was like nothing I expected and yet I landed exactly where I needed to be. I love being thirty-something–I admit it and truth be told, I am mourning letting this decade go. And while I am still 12 months away from that inevitable moment, I find myself sighing and imagining how it will be to have a year of lasts. Just like I faced my senior year of college wistfully, knowing it would be my last as a full-time relatively irresponsible student, I feel I am embarking on the last year of a decade so sweet. I know that there is nothing to be gained by holding onto this past, but I am still feeling strangely well…wistful.
I think that this wistfulness is highlighted because I feel like I am standing on sort of threshold, in some sort of transition, as though I am on the verge of some big kind of shift in my life and it just happens to be happening at the end of this decade. Perhaps that’s why 39 feels so big and heavy to me. My age has become a symbol for me–of being at the end of something and at the start of something else. It feels like that last leg of this journey before a new one will start. And maybe I am feeling a little afraid. And a little bit as though I want to cling to something comfortable, even something as crazily comfortable as my age.
Yesterday, on our way out to get lunch I shared this with my friend and brother Stephen. We were talking about the little dinner party that my friend Cathy is throwing for me next week. Stephen can’t keep secrets and has shared with me every bit of news he gets about the affair. I told him about how this birthday feels so pivotal to me. I shared with him why. I told him that it feels like one last dance of being thirty-something (for whatever that means). Stephen is well past thirty-something so he rolled his eyes at me but one of the reasons I love him so is that he gets me so deeply and fundamentally. He recognized my need for ritual not ridicule.
I expected him to make fun of my youthful silliness and to tell me to get over myself. But instead he was thoughtful. “Since you feel this way,” he remarked, “you need to honor it and celebrate it…go with it–don’t fight it” And then he got excited.
We had been talking about how I didn’t want presents for my birthday but about how Cathy had mistakenly emailed them all that I did want presents which he thought was bold and brave and refreshing–so much so that when she corrected the email and told them that I DIDN’T want presents, he was terribly disappointed. He has been on the quest to get me to ask for a present ever since.
“Aha,” he said, his eyes lighting up. “I KNOW what we can do for you. Its a perfect non-present present you can ask for AND it will help mark this pivotal year.”
“You need to task us all with coming up with coming up with 40 things we are going to commit to help you do/experience/see or live before you turn 40. We need to be your conspirators during this year of transition. That can be our present to you. ” What a lovely idea for the keeper of lists… I wear my dreams on my sleeve. I keep my list of 100 things to do before I die pinned to my desk. Every year I make my Mondo Beyondo list and share it shamelessly with anyone who is interested.
We both stood in the September sunshine for a second and basked in the brilliance of his idea about the perfect birthday present.
“For instance…you want to skydive–who is going to volunteer to go with you?” Now it was my turn to roll my eyes at him. Stephen is sometimes as insane as he is brilliant. I am going no where near an open door of any plane. “OK, OK…maybe not skydiving. But you get my point. And we can help you. We can suggest amazing adventures or things you might not even think of…And you don’t have to do it all if you don’t want…you can CHOOSE what to do but the point is it can be a year of no excuses because you will have help in getting it done.”
I love this idea. The idea of making this last year of my thirties about choosing how live lusciously, full and bravely with the help of my friends and community. I love it so much I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I wonder what kind of good habits will it spawn and support–a habit of choosing adventure, a habit of asking for help, a habit of not waiting until a better time, a habit of living in the present instead of the future, a habit of saying WHY NOT NOW?
And so I told Cathy to correct her email once again and to hint about the present I wanted most.
And I throw this open to you my friends, those who stop by here and who have listened to the whispers of my heart…Can you contribute to this present? Do you have a suggestion for me and are you willing to be my conspirator if I wish to follow through on your idea? If you want to help…leave a comment here or email me at meg (at) megcasey (dot) com. Next week on my birthday (or maybe the day after) I will share my list (created by Stephen and our gang along with all of you) here. I can’t wait to unwrap this one!