But it was the other, darker issues about turning 40 - a true confrontation with my lack of confidence, my fear that I was truly destined to be...ordinary - that started to simmer in my thoughts.
I really started asking myself "who are you?" There's one definite drawback to being what I'd call resilient. The ability to fit in many places makes it really hard to find your true nitch, to figure out where you belong. I wondered if I'd made peace with the first 40, so that I could go about enjoying the second 40.
And then a perfect storm of events kind of catapulted me into a 30,000 ft view of my life.
Sunday, I had a lovely conversation with my friend Patrick, who was in town for a weekend. Just your normal catching up, but then he said "I knew, from a very young age, when I first heard there was something called Broadway, that I wanted to be there." I'm almost positive I never said - "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be an analyst for the IRS." I never had a moment like that as a kid - I never saw something, and thought, I want to do that. Oh, sure, there was that time I was watching Dynasty and Alexis said "if you don't do as I wish, I'm simply fire you all and find someone who will". That stuck with me - I thought that was completely kick ass and wanted to be the head of my ex-husband's board so I could say that to stick it to his beautiful new wife, and then we'd go fight in the lily pond wearing tremendous shoulder pads. But back to my point, there's always this nugget burning inside of me...this thought that I'm not supposed to be doing this job.
Then, my cousin died on Wednesday. Now anyone close to me knows I have a RACK of first cousins, and that my family is huge. And not surprisingly, I'm more in touch with some cousins than others. This cousin, while I didn't see often, I truly loved, and what's more? Her dad is one of my favorites. Kiki was the first baby born after me (my family ALWAYS has babies running around), and I remember being spittin' mad that no one would let me hold her. I also remember my grandfather sneaking her onto my lap when no one was looking. I remember when Kiki's baby sister was born, I used my 8 (maybe 9)- year old wisdom to deduce that everyone would be so crazy about the NEW baby, that I could finally get to hold Kiki. And now...35 far too short years later, she's drifted out of this world, leaving her family, and my uncle, devastated. I should hope by now she's run into my Grandfather, and he's telling her that her kids and her parents will be fine, that people learn to live with broken hearts more often than is fair.
Before last week, I was thinking about flirting with some things that had always fascinated me, wanting to indulge some curiosity a bit. Nothing that would jeopardize my secret clearance, not to worry. But I definitely lived the first 40 within the constraints of what I was supposed to do...go to college, major in business, get a good government job, get married, start a family. And while all of these things have paid humongous dividends in my life (and, I think, humanity), I think the road not taken starts to loom larger the further you get away from it. And I started to wonder, had the list not been given to me, what would I have chosen to put on it?
And after a great weekend with friends, filled with laughter, shooters, and drinking games, a weekend where I returned to pre-40 Tye, it kind of all has come together for me. During the weekend, I realized that I truly missed my 40-Tye. I spent some time with some great people, revisited a couple of broken hearts of my own (as only drunk people can do), and realized that I'm not defined anymore by what I don't have, or what I am not. And I'm no longer defined by the things I wish I could have missed from my life. I am, simply, me.
I sing at the top of my lungs in the car. I dance in the elevator bay at work. I will save a blog for days to find just the write song title that fits. I love television. I cry at the drop of a hat. I am sarcastic. My heart is on the outside of my body, and can usually be found on a four year old that sings misheard lyrics better than I do (did you KNOW that the Spice Girls song says "if you wanna be my booger"!!!). I snore when I'm tired. I don't like mean people. I could probably come up with 31 more, but that would get long.
And so, here's my 40-Tye list:
- Go to college
- Get a good job
- Get married
- Start a family
- As yet, unwritten
College is this wonderful halfway house between being a kid and being an adult. Everyone doesn't need it, but I did, and I highly recommend it. And anyway, I met one of my best friends on the planet there. I would leave business off the list this time, because I have no interest in it. Money doesn't interest me anymore, beyond having enough to take care of my family (and indulge my iLife, and love of Nordstrom's). I do not define "good job" by what the job pays, but one that is completely soul satisfying. And I still don't know what that is, which is unfortunate. Maybe it's not working at all - to spend my time being a better member of the community who know? But it's immaterial - I've made some deals with some people (namely Chase Home Loans) that makes the whole "not working" idea moot. The last two things on my list are a given - I know, without a shadow of a doubt that somewhere along the line, I did something exactly right to land a husband that gets me and completes me, and a kid that truly makes me fall to my knees in gratitude every single night. Tonight, as I put Alex to bed, he said -- and I quote -- "Mommy, I really really really really missed you and I love you." And in his eyes I saw EXACTLY why I jumped out of bed this morning and made Walter drive on a snowy mountain. THIS is where I belong. Going away is wonderful; coming home is...a blessing.
From that 30,000 foot view I learned that anything that I thought I could do to infuse some excitement in my life paled in comparison to what my life already is. I have my parents - Alex is fortunate to have all of his grandparents. His weekend spent with his grannies was so much fun for him. I'm so lucky to never have to worry about my kid. I miss him when he's not around, but I never once worry about his safety (except in that psychotic way that I have of imagining the worst - a thing I'm trying to fix). I have a magnificent support group of friends, friends who are accepting, who are always willing to cheer me on, and tell me when to get my head out of my a$$. The whole job thing...? Well - definitely not a calling, but what it does give me is options. I know I could do anything I wanted to do, but right now I have a job that gets me home in time for soccer practice and dinner. Who would walk away from such? (And I just KNOW that published book is right around the corner).
From 30,000 feet, I see that some things may nor not meant to be conquered. I will probably never have the confidence that it seems other people ooze. I am never going to feel like the prettiest, or the smartest, or the skinniest, or any of the -iest things the other people have. But you know what that does give me? Kindness. Compassion. A sense of humor. I'd like to think I have just enough confidence, that with the other 3, I could maybe be okay. The liberating part if that the list doesn't have to end...ever. As long as we are lucky enough to draw breath, we can always choose to put more stuff on the list, right?
From 30,000 feet, I have pretty close to everything I ever wanted. So it turns out that maybe I wrote that list after all. The road less travelled becomes just like any other road after a while...a pretty road, with lots of sights. But it's important to keep focused on the road you're ON: it has a lot of beautiful sights too, and you don't want to miss them. And you also don't want to get blindsided because you weren't paying attention.