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One more precious year of my 50s

I can’t say it seems like yesterday that some friends took me out for a 50th birthday lunch. Eighteen months ago, maybe. Three years, absolute tops. The merry throng commandeered two tables at the bistro of the moment, which long ago morphed into something else. For a good two hours we turned heads with our boisterous laughter—my best friend, my closest colleagues (minus one who was mourning the death of her father), my newest friend and the doyenne of friends, who had been my mother’s confidante and was present, we both knew, in her stead. My “putative mother,” as she called herself, brought a pair of miniature antique Chinese bowls, just big enough to hold some rare, perfumed condiment. One was my birthday gift. The other she gave to my best friend, whose birthday was just before mine.

I now have one year left to enjoy my 50s—or 361 days, to be precise. You already know this if you read Tuesday’s post (“Revealed! The first day of my 60th year”). Then again, you may be a titch confused. It has come to my attention that some of you think starting my 60th year and hitting the big 6-0 are the same thing, which they most assuredly are not. It may seem like a fine distinction if 40 still seems like a long way off. But one day soon enough you’ll be asking yourself, as I’m asking this post-birthday week, “How did my 50s fly by so fast?” You’ll want to linger for a few more years in this decade that once seemed so…parental.

Headline writers enthuse about the “fabulous 50s,” but you won’t get any of that claptrap from me. So, what to call these years? The fearless 50s? The fraught 50s? Perhaps the fashionable 50s? To hell with alliteration; let’s just look back on 10 defining passages of the decade when…

I saw my son become a good father and realized I must have done something right.

I acquired my first backless dress and vampish swmsuit with plunging neckline.

I looked at the once-thrilling job I had finally made my own and realized I no longer loved it.

I took up Pilates and wondered why no one ever talks about this regimen’s number one practical benefit: being able to go for hours without peeing.

I took my husband to Argentina, where I’d never dreamed of going until a conference lured me there, and had one of the most vividly surprising vacations of my life.

I closed the door for the last time on the sprawling condo that once been my dream home, lovingly designed from plans, and was then a dusty shell awaiting the new owners.

I wrote my first book, which surpassed my hopes for it.

I overcame technophobia by creating this online community.

reconciled with my sister after a lifetime of rivalry and thinly veiled resentment on both sides.

mourned my best friend who, at my 50th birthday lunch, received the other antique Chinese bowl in the pair.

I wonder who’ll be at the table this time next year, when I really am 60. My putative mother, who’s well into her 80s, still holds court in her own art-filled house. Some colleagues who toasted my 50th have drifted from my life, as all but the deepest work friendships tend to do. I’ve met new friends and reconnected with another who found me on this web site. For a while longer, I’ll be blessed with at least one friend old enough to be my mother, and more recent friends young enough to be my daughters. It’s a little like holding the past and the future in the palm of my hand. I can almost believe this grouping will last forever.

 

Posted by Rona

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