After this, I promise to tell you about the first time we drove ourselves somewhere. Oh, my.

3 Feb

Tomorrow, I will turn 40.

These are things that I have done since I turned 39 (in rough chronological order):
– co-ordinated grandfather’s move into aged accommodation (aged in many senses, he’ll have a new room soon) and in the process got to know an aunty, some cousins, myself, my grandparents and my mother a whole lot better;
– waved my youngest child off to school;
– performed in the Adelaide Fringe Festival for the first time, being a standup comedian;
– discovered the reason underlying our secondary infertility;
– redrafted novel, creating a much more substantial work;
– became regional president of amnesty and rejoined national board;
– went out for tea with my father and brother to mark the occasion of my mother’s birthday, not realising that would be the last time I saw my dad out of bed;
– co-ordinated preparation and sale of grandfather’s house;
– got selected as part of Australian delegation to amnesty’s 2009 international meeting;
– watched father die;
– realised I have no parents;
– settled grandfather’s house;
– spoke at father’s funeral;
– stayed home for a month alone with children while the mister went to abu dhabi;
– another draft;
– tried to pack up childhood home;
– survived Christmas;
– moved to abu dhabi (thus giving up much-loved place on amnesty board and icm delegation);
– corrected proofs and admired the cover of my soon-to-be novel.

Of course there were other things: got sent ‘want to knit’ texts at just the right time; cuddled with boys on lounge; watched all of West Wing; got impatient with patient mister; bought self a lovely pendant from Zu designers; got cared for by the mister, my boys, friends, cousins, in-laws, uncles and aunts; ran on a Kangaroo Island beach, folded washing; drank too much; drove self crazy listening to self-righteous dudes on local abc mornings etcetera etcetera etcetera.

I don’t think it’s right to draw lines under dates – just because a new year begins doesn’t really mean the old one ends. But it’s hard not to feel that I’m moving into a new time, that I’m different now to what I was. I’m trying not to define things as good or bad, but they’ve been a big couple of years.

When I was in my twenties, it was all about creating experiences – be on this committee, go to that country, learn this language, get this degree. I’m still like that, but not so much. Not at all really. I’ve ended up travelling again, but that has not come from any Grand Plan, it’s just kind of arrived.

The experiences have begun to create themselves I guess.

The differences in me? Greying and with semi-permanent glasses obviously. But there’s other things. I’m stronger now than I ever have been before. Tired (exhausted, really), of course, but stronger nonetheless. And while I worry about things, about all the things that could still go wrong, I don’t think I’m so afraid as I used to be (note to universe – by writing this, I do not mean ‘bring it on’, not at all, thank you for listening to this bit universe).

What I really like about age is the depth that it gives to relationships. Even in those family relationships that remain complex, time and experience have given them a value that transcends complexity. Intimate friendships are firm and certain and have become as invaluable, as inextricable, as family. And then there’s the mister, of course. And my boys. That’s what I like about age.

Also, I happen to know – because youngest boy can not keep secrets however much he is coached – I’m getting an ace present. ‘And we didn’t go in the jewellery shop, Mum’.

See you on the other side.


24 Responses to “After this, I promise to tell you about the first time we drove ourselves somewhere. Oh, my.”

  1. SQ February 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Happy happy birthday. Miss you.

  2. tut-tut February 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

    Happy birthday. Hope to hear what the ace present turns out to be.

  3. suse February 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    ‘Back by popular demand’, and published novel. Not too shabby.

    Happy birthday and may it be a good one, friend.

  4. Francis Xavier Holden February 3, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    Happy Birthday.

    I’ve been an orphan for a long time now.

    But I’ll be seeing Laffin’ Lenny on Thursday and my soul will be revived. And then Lucinda not too long after that.

  5. The Coffee Lady February 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Wow. That was a lot of stuff.

    We’re better. At least I’m convinced we are. Being 39 myself I have to believe it.

  6. Laura February 4, 2009 at 2:08 am #

    I do love to read your writing. Hanging out for that novel.

  7. Kath Lockett February 4, 2009 at 3:15 am #

    Happy Birthday for tomorrow, Third Cat.

    I’m not an orphan and and turned forty in November, but can relate to all of your article. I still feel ‘young and full of possibilities’ inside, but when Sapphire once asked me, ‘Did you have TV in the olden days when you were a kid?’ it did put me in my (chronological) place somewhat.

    PLEASE do an article about your book for those of us still in the dark, okay?

  8. Mindy February 4, 2009 at 4:03 am #

    Happy Birthday. I too am looking forward to reading your book. Is Abu Dhabi nice?

  9. blackbird February 4, 2009 at 5:16 am #

    Aside from these great achievements, I admire your use of the semi-colon.

    I send you wishes for all good things for your birthday.

  10. Pavlov's Cat February 4, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    Happy birthday, 3C. To mark the occasion, I have made you a hamper.

  11. Deborah February 4, 2009 at 6:01 am #

    Happy birthday! I found that 39 was not much fun, but 40 was just fine, and 43 seems to be even better (so far).

    Thank you so much for meeting me to have coffee last year, when I was new to Adelaide, and floundering. It meant a great deal to me, and I appreciate it even more when I realise that last year was a hell-year for you. Things are more-or-less coming right for me now, but it has taken time.

    My first novel, Black Dust Dancing, is about to be published

    Want. Will get. I like the way you say, “my first novel.” It implies there will be more, which is forward and future and growing.

    Best wishes for a wonderful 41st year.

  12. fifi February 4, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    birthday, and what an amazing year!

    Thanks, I say, to the universe that made you be.

    I am impatient unto death for that novel.

  13. meli February 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    happy birthday!!!!

  14. Zoe February 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    Happy birthday, old girl.


  15. Pen February 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm #

    Happy Birthday, and well done on making through a lifetime in 12 months.

    Hope you found something to do in your new town (in or out of the guidebook) that is suitably birthday-worthy.

  16. Stomper Girl February 5, 2009 at 4:43 am #

    Happy 40th Thirdcat. You had a big year for a 39 year old. I hope 40 is fabulous. You still sound like you’re in the middle of your Grown-Up Adventures. It sounds as though you have now the maturity and the resources (which include your mister and your boys) to deal well with it all x

  17. kim at allconsuming February 5, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    Whoa dude. I didn’t quite realise the calibre of, well, you.

    Happy birthday indeed.

  18. Stephanie February 5, 2009 at 7:50 am #

    Yay for you! Great blog; great post; and obviously a great woman too…

  19. Kirsty February 5, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    Happy Birthday for yesterday. Here’s to another 40, maybe more.

  20. Laura February 6, 2009 at 11:21 am #

    Happy, happy day. And year to come. And all the ones after that too.

    The last year has been VERY big. But some years are just like that eh? you have to grow up, I mean REALLY grow up to understand that.

    Well done. Keep up the good work.

  21. ampersandduck February 8, 2009 at 7:13 am #

    Late to the party, as usual, but warm fuzzies to you none-the-less.

    I’m sure the next ten years (until the next significant birthday & subsequent stocktaking) are going to be quite extraordinary! I hope so, anyway.

  22. Helen February 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    I can’t believe I didn’t wish you a happy birthday. *Slaps self*

    …What’s secondary infertility? Deciding to stop after the second child? Boom, tish.

  23. Helen February 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    When I was in my twenties, it was all about creating experiences – be on this committee, go to that country, learn this language, get this degree. I’m still like that, but not so much. Not at all really.

    Oh no not so much. Ahem. Just the SMALL matter of BECOMING A STANDUP COMEDIAN. Only something 99% of us would never dare to attempt.

  24. charlotteotter February 13, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    Belated happy birthday wishes and welcome to 40. I also just got there, and I find it good.

    That was quite a year you had, both good and bad. I look forward to reading your novel – thank you for your comments over at mine.

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