Contemplation on a Pandemic Birthday

I am 48 years old today. Thus I join the increasing ranks of people who have celebrated birthdays while under pandemic restrictions. I’m a late-comer to this particular life experience. By late March everyone will be in the club. As usual in my house, pandemic changes everything and not very much. We’ve always been pretty low-key with birthdays. They tend to be immediate household with a few gifts and some tasty food. Since we’ve been doing meal-prep kits as part of our groceries, I allowed myself to pick only recipes that appealed to me rather than weighing other people’s preferences. So I’ve got three birthday meals. The thing that is truly broken is that Howard generally likes to sneak out and purchase gifts and foods for me either the day before or the day of my birthday. Unfortunately he’s the one who we’re most trying to keep away from Covid exposures, so he can’t go shopping. Pre-planned online shopping simply doesn’t click in his brain the same way.

I keep staring at my age number and wondering how I feel about it. I can feel the years in my body and see them on my face. I have no desire to hide my accumulating years or attempt to turn back the clock. Not even on the days when I feel dismayed about the softening accumulation on my body. Forty-eight is a highly divisible number, which invites retrospection. Half my life ago I had just graduated from college and was chasing a toddler while thinking about having a second child. I’d had my first surgery for tumor removal and thought that adventure was behind me. We were living in our first house and trying to make a record production company work. A third of my life ago we were five years into Schlock Mercenary, six months into trying to make it be full time work, and about to make the decision to print the books ourselves. I was six years past my second surgery and radiation therapy, but hadn’t yet faced the emotional baggage of it all. We lived in the house we have now and had our four children. That half-my-life-ago 24 year old had no idea who she would become. That third-of-my-life-ago 32 year old had started walking the pathways which led to me.

The retrospection is interesting, but turning and looking forward is more so. If me of 24 years ago had no idea who she would become, how far will I go in the next 24 years? I feel strong and confident in ways that I didn’t feel even two years ago. For the first time in eight years no one in my house is in crisis or on the brink of crisis. I’ve learned how to claim space and set boundaries. I’m excited to see what I can become and create in the years to come. I have my plans for this year, now I just need to take small daily steps toward them.