Yesterday, as I noted then, was my birthday, and it was one that I was surprised to find myself a bit ambivalent about. I haven’t really felt bad about a birthday in that oh-god-I’m-getting-old kind of way since I turned 29. Of course, I look back now on that bit of moaning and laugh, but I do still understand what it was that had me unhappy: “9” birthdays have felt like the end of something, as though an amazing period of my life was too-quickly wrapping up. By contrast, I was thrilled to turn 30 — I felt like I’d gotten a whole new decade to play with, a wide-open vista in which I could do anything.
I was less sad about 39 than I’d been about 29, perhaps because my 30s had gone so unbelievably well that all I wanted to do was enjoy the last year. And because I was attuned to the “wide-open vista” feeling, turning 40 pretty much rocked as well.
45, though, I wasn’t looking forward to. It’s not the start of a new decade, but the entry into a new demographic. No longer will I be part of the 29-44 age bracket. Never again will somebody look at me and think, wow, she’s only in her early 40s — how young to have accomplished all that!
But yesterday numbers among the best birthdays I’ve ever had. I took a couple of days off of work, and R. and I hopped a train down to DC to goof off a bit. We had a nice late dinner on Wednesday, and then woke up yesterday ready to start whatever the birthday plan would be. I expected to do some reading, some writing, some shopping, and then to have a fabulous dinner to cap it all off.
About 9.30 or so, however, there was a knock on our hotel room door. I assumed it would be housekeeping, and so got up from my computer to answer — and instead found the hotel service manager standing there with a bunch of balloons, a cake, and a card signed by all of the front desk staff. R. had mentioned off-handedly as we checked in that we were here for my birthday, but that was the extent of his involvement; the staff had planned the rest themselves.
I was really touched by their thoughtfulness — as I was, once again this year, by the crazy outpouring of happy birthdays on Facebook. I am no fan of Facebook, I will admit, but this is one thing that culture really has going for it. Friends from as far back as high school and as recently met as a conference this summer all popped up sending good wishes for the day, and though I know that the network makes the effort involved in that outpouring pretty trivial, the effect is nonetheless moving: seeing the number of people from across your life willing to take a moment to say hi is a powerful reminder of the connections you’ve made, and the ways they can be maintained.
Anyhow, I spent much of the day reflecting on these connections and on the directions I want to explore as I enter this new demographic. And I got a new toy to play with, as R. upgraded my iPad (which is a pretty hilarious birthday present, considering what happened to the iPad I gave him for his birthday last year, a story that does not make me look particularly good, so I’ll just leave the details for another time). And at the recommendation of a friend, R. and I went out for a most ridiculously good dinner. And then completely collapsed from celebration overload. The day honestly couldn’t have been any better.
So today, forward into 45. And forward into new experiments, new projects, new connections.