|48 in my boots!|
This year, in August, I turned 48. I find it hard to believe, honestly, although I don't know why. Seriously.
When I'm with my high school friends, I forget we are no longer 16 or 17. Really. Here we are, some of us with kids in college, or "collegers" as my kids call them. And still, we're all teens to me. In the best possible way.
And this is how much we laugh. I don't laugh like this in my normal life. I end the weekends exhausted and fragile and wanting more, just a little more. I have never tried cocaine but maybe this is what it's like?
|When you laugh so hard you fall off your chair|
I'm a better parent than I would've been in my 20s and 30s. I'm happier than I was at those ages.
But left to my own devices, sometimes I totally forget that I've lived this long.
I mean, when I was a kid in Bangladesh, we'd have to schedule a call on our enormous, chunky black dial telephone to my grandmother in North Dakota. We'd get a call back from the operator without warning. It could be 3:00AM.
My parents would rush to wake me up so I could shout over the terrible, crackly international line, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH GRAMMA LILLIAN! THANK YOU FOR THE BABY DOLL AND THE MARSHMALLOWS!
The first time she visited us in Dhaka, I had worms. You don't get worms in Minot, North Dakota. She rolled with all of it.
|In a bicycle rickshaw|
For a long time I thought everyone packed with marshmallows.
But can you even imagine using a heavy black plastic rotary phone now? Scheduling a call? Relying on the operator?
What I'm saying is: I've lived a while.
How I feel at this age is not upsetting. Here's what's throwing me for a loop: the OH MY HELL I'M ALMOST 50!
I'm firmly a middle aged woman.
Though I feel fine, though I have smart, beautiful, cool, similarly-midddle-aged friends, and friends who are older that I love and admire, I feel like aging is rough for women in today's society. The term "middle aged woman" does not conjure up positive images.
I believe it's easier to be an aging man. Let me fix that sentence. I believe it's easier to be a
I also think I wouldn't be in this crisis if the world didn't feel so calamitous. My baseline anxiety and agitation is very high. Add a dollop of anything, and I am easily pushed over the top.
On my birthday, I didn't take my "today I am this old" picture. The picture above is my "I am 48" picture.
I had Nick capture me in this outfit because I love everything about it. It was the first time I ever wore cowgirl boots with a dress. I love the look!
I'd been waiting until it was cold to wear my boots with jeans, but no longer! If I do this, I can wear them way more often! I'm trying to come up with other outfits for my boots. If I lived in Texas I'd have so many pairs.
I strongly suspect that a second pair of cowgirl boots would improve my life immeasurably.
Anyway, I didn't write a post, not because I was freaking out, but because we were just so busy. So I'm doing it now.
This year, I fell down on Jordan's, Betty's, and my birthday posts. I may write them and post in the coming month, for posterity.
On my birthday, I'd just driven the kids and my mom to and from Toronto in one week (yes, I did! I have an upcoming post and pictures, because it was amazing). We did many things, but sleep was not so much among them. I returned exhausted and with a sinus infection.
And the day before my birthday, we went to a memorial service for Australian Builder, our friend Kim, who passed away August 1. (You know him. He's in so many of my house construction stories over the last eight years.)
Kim's memorial service, which was really a big party at an American Legion hall, was where my children learned the drinking song they stayed up at night singing in this post.
When you went to the bar to order, the bartender said, "The first one is on Kim." I cried and drank a lot of beer. This didn't help my sinuses.
The following week, Betty went into the hospital for blood transfusions. The next day, on Jordan's birthday, Nick drove the kids up to camp while I tried to figure out care for Betty so I could join them.
Betty was back in the hospital for the third time. She got out on her birthday.
What I'm saying is, we had a hell of an August and September.
But now it's October, and I have something I want to put out in the universe.
I've been walloped by the number 48 and its proximity to 50, and my reaction is pissing me off.
I mean, at 25 I had a quarter-life freakout. And after 35 I was fretting about whether or not I'd ever get married and start a family. But a lot of that was driven by internet dating, and men whose age cutoffs were 35. There were men who mentioned that I would walk to get serious fast because, basically, I was running out of time. There was the guy who flat out asked me what was wrong with me.
Internet dating for me at ages 37 and 38 was fraught with little traumas. And then I met Nick, who just plain felt lucky that I was single.
So I wasn't so much upset about my age as my situation.
This fret is the number. And the fact that I'm bugged really annoys me. Am I that shallow? (Maybe.)
I feel like, oh, stop it! Celebrate the age you are, because you're lucky to alive and surrounded by loved ones. Appreciate what you have.
So this is what I've decided, and I'm putting it out into the universe for help making it happen.
In two years, I will turn 50, god willing. I am going to celebrate that birthday big.
I'm going back to India, to New Delhi, where I was born, half a century prior.
I started saving for the trip last month, when I decided, because it's a huge endeavor. Planning, which I am admittedly mediocre at, will come later.
My habit has always been read the guidebook on the plane, or maybe when I'm there, wherever there is. Or just look things up as I go. But in this case, traveling alone and with limited time, I will plan ahead. I have two years, after all.
If my family can manage without me for two weeks, that's how long I'll go for. It's such an expensive and long journey, and you have such jet lag when you arrive, that less than two weeks seems pointless.
Now that I have this plan, which at this point is no more detailed than what I've told you, I'm excited! It's something huge to look forward to.
I haven't been back in 22 years. I know Delhi has completely changed. There are fancy malls and a metro! Palika Bazaar, which used to be this claustrophobic underground warren of cigarette-smoke filled shops now looks all swank!
I was born in New Delhi, in Holy Family Hospital. After that we lived in Bangladesh, then Egypt, then Virginia for four years, and then Delhi again for my high school. All of those places were home, and none of them were.
My parents' house in Virginia was the longest stretch of home I ever had. But it wasn't where I was from, and it was only home in the sense that my parents lived there. I have zero emotional connection to it.
Third culture kids, I believe, can relate.
When we left Delhi, I lost touch with most of my friends. I was a terrible correspondent back in the mail-a-letter days. In college, I wanted to go back to Delhi, to go "home"--but by then, my parents had moved to Virginia.
Now I've put down roots in DC. We have this terrific house that we've poured all of our everything into. I love our house, and even more, I love that our kids have a fixed place they know is home.
And still, I could walk away tomorrow if we had to.
After high school, Delhi was never home again. But in a small piece of my heart, it will always be.
As the country of my birth, and a country in which I spent some of the best, most important years of my life, India is both foreign to and such a part of me.
|Our house in Defense Colony|
This was always true, no matter how much coconut oil I put in my jute-colored hair.
I learned Hindi and English at the same time, and to my ayah's voiced horror and dismay, my mom let me play with the street kids on the maidan, so I had a filthy mouth at age three. I wasn't allowed to go barefoot because, hookworm! But I could run around saying mother f***er in Hindi like nobody's business.
I will be an absolutely tourist. I barely remember any Hindi. In fact, there's a lot I don't remember.
But sometimes I step outside and catch a particular scent, and it is Delhi, or Kashmir. The smell of jet fuel brings pangs of longing for childhood.
I may have weird Proustian triggers, but I know I'm not alone.
And for my 50th, I'm going home.