If you had asked me ten years ago- or even five- how I would greet the prospect of turning forty, the words "with great joy" would not have been uttered during our conversation.
And so it was with surprise that I turned forty this month with glee, not glumness, with delight, not doldrums, with joy, not sorrow. Now that I am here, I am astonished by the traditional black balloons and 'over the hill' merchandise. Are there people who really feel that way? That has no place in my life, and those sentiments were not at all present this weekend. Instead, my feelings were beautifully summed up in one of the cards I received:
Today a new sun rises for me;
everything lives, everything is animated,
everything seems to speak to me of my passion,
everything invites me to cherish it."
- Anne De Lenclos
(Oh my... I just looked up the author on Wiki, and now love this quote even more: Ninon De L'Enclos)
Ah, the weekend. This weekend was full of friends, celebration, fun and laughter. Three dear friends traveled long distances to help me celebrate this milestone. T flew in from Minnesota. W hopped on a bus in Vermont. And K traveled in from DC. The group expanded on Saturday night, when my NYC girlfriends joined us for a delicious and lively birthday dinner.
New York is a wonderful place to be a hostess. Walk outside your door, and the possibilities are endless. For Saturday brunch, our small group found our way to Teany, an airy & light-filled tea shop and vegetarian cafe owned by the musician Moby. Half the fun was getting there, and walking a bit on the Lower East Side. The store signs are in a jumble of languages, with intriguing restaurants and shops every few steps. Definitely a place I need to spend more time exploring.
The Marina Abramovic exhibition I had seen a couple weeks ago was still on my mind, and I thought that my friends would appreciate its intensity and sheer rawness. They did. And thanks to an amazing benefit of MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) membership ($75/individual, which I had already purchased-- with up to five $5 guest passes each visit), it was an affordable spectacle.
The weather was perfect, and after time in a museum- and after seeing the intense Abramovic show- time outside was a must. We walked down to Bryant Park Grill, an outdoor cafe that looks out on the park. Perfect weather, perfect company. And a perfect waitress. Once she realized that I was celebrating my 40th, she continually brought over any 'extra' drinks that had been mistakenly poured. So we had a bit more than originally planned-! The fun starting gaining additional momentum when my friend M finished her volunteer work in Harlem and joined us, bearing artful and exquisite cupcakes, as evidenced above.
More NYC-based girlfriends joined us for dinner at Chola, a wonderful Indian restaurant on East 58th Street. Delicious food, attentive service, cozy atmosphere. It made me so happy to have all of these strong, spirited, fearless friends gather around me and cheer as I walked into my fourth decade. Women from several different stages of my life, many of whom arrived as strangers to each other and departed friends.
I am so blessed. My path has not always been an easy one, and my current situation is certainly not perfect. The hardships of life- serious medical diagnoses, relationship woes, infertility, job loss, death--have recently visited those that I care about deeply. I continue to be greatly challenged by my work and the energy it requires of me. I am happy, though, and have no wish to be anywhere other than where I am right now, or to be anyone other than who I am today.