I just spent 10 minutes trying to remember what I did for my 35th birthday, and after running through several different birthdays I remembered that I worked two doubles that weekend, as it was the weekend of Cinco de Mayo and I was managing a Mexican restaurant. The owners decorated the basement for me and we all celebrated by doing shots at some point in the night, and I had a pint of Guinness before going home. I probably ended up going out and getting drunk after work on the 5th, but seeing as that was a common Sunday night occurrence it doesn’t really stand out from any other Sunday nights. Fast forward 4 years, and tomorrow I will be 39 years old, and embarking on the last year of my 30’s… And I’m not scared or upset or even worried about it. On my 36th birthday we celebrated with cake and my three week old infant. On my 37th birthday Cesar tried to surprise me with cake but I messed it up, cried due to pregnancy hormones, and then had a lovely day with my little family and rapidly growing little baby in my tummy. On my 38th birthday we had been in California for a few months and my mother and sister joined us for cake and Mexican food (I do love cake). This year I am expecting again, and there will definitely be cake and also hopefully a day or early evening out with Cesar too (next week though as he is working doubles until then). And I refuse to start feeling old, because even though I have a few more grey hairs, and few extra pounds (although they are all pregnancy-related!), I actually feel a lot lighter and less serious than I did when I was 29. Or even 35.
I used to dread the thought of reaching 40. Actually, I used to dread the idea of being 30 when I was in my teens. I suppose we all do a little, worry about getting older, dying, not accomplishing everything we really want to in life. If you had told me on my 35th birthday that I would be living in California with three small kids before I was 40, I would have laughed in your face and offered you a shot of Powers. But life does take the strangest of turns, often for the best in my case, and I couldn’t imagine my life any different now. 39 feels a lot like 38. 39 actually feels a lot better than 35 did, probably because I am healthy, happy and content nowadays, and a lot more focused on what I want from the future. I wasn’t that much at 35. Everything is a little hazy, a little confused from that time; now I see it as a crossroads that was looming ahead, waiting for me to decide. And decide I did, or more importantly a little being decided for me, and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life! Growing a human, and then a second, and now a third is one of the most wonderful, exciting and life-changing experiences (for me anyway), and has helped me gain a wider perspective on many, many things in life.
Love, for example. Once I thought that love had to come hand in hand with pain and heartbreak. That we always needed to search for more, even if there wasn’t more there. But no, real love actually does just mean that: that you can really be in love without feeling pain at the same time. That you continue to think of the person you love as your best friend, your companion. That every time he (or she) walks in the door your face lights up and everything feels right again. That you argue and cuddle and get annoyed and laugh uncontrollably, but that everything always feels exactly the way it should. I now know that all of that pain I forced myself though was actually just a way for me to learn that it can be amazing, and continue to be amazing, once you learn to accept that you are allowed to have amazing. And that love actually does grow over time: it takes root and blooms, growing up and out, a family tree in the making so to speak. A lesson I’m glad I learned to accept sooner rather than later.
Confidence is another one of those things that I have always found hard to hold on to. Instead of appreciating my natural abilities and talents for certain things I took on the harder job of building walls around myself to protect myself from the arrows that I thought would attack me at any given moment. I pretended to be confident while cringing inside, using alcohol as a way to have a voice, to knock down the walls for a few hours. I will never be super confident, but I do now know my own worth, and will continue to push myself to accomplish some dreams that still remain in place no matter what I have done to get rid of them. I recently published my first book, a collection of stories and essays on my journey into motherhood and beyond, called With Spring Comes Hope. I still hesitate to feel like I am worthy of having published work, but I feel like I should be proud of myself, because it IS an accomplishment. Which brings me to my last point…
Nostalgia. I have always been a nostalgic person, looking back into the past rather than the future, writing about feelings and thoughts, love and pain, hilarious times and dark times. Over the next month or so I will finish editing my next book which will be a collection of all of that. It’s a collection of nostalgia, some of it rose-coloured, but a lot of it grey touched by all of the colours of the rainbow. Some pieces are stark, upsetting, others are touched by beauty, and others just real life, nothing more, nothing less. Nowadays this nostalgia doesn’t hold me back, but it used to a little. I used to think that the past was always going to be better than the future, that the unknown was a big pit of darkness. Today the past is a whirlpool of different times and places and people, and the future is a long list of everything that is going to be. More yellow bricked road over a rainbow towards a few pots of treasure rather than deep, dingy pit.
Hindsight is always wonderful but I don’t have many regrets nowadays, just many, many dreams. And I embrace this new year in my life fully, even if it means another decade is coming to an end, and a new one will begin next year. In the end I will always be a combination of that wide-eyed, little girl in her pink dress and that jaded goth smoking in a corner.