Being Forty

I couldn’t wait to turn 40. This is what it is like so far…

* * *

Being 40 is running with my daughter and lagging behind. She lopes on easily and seems surprised when I can’t keep up. “What’s wrong? ” she asks. “You’re not really trying,” she suggests kindly. “You could run this fast if you wanted to.”

Being 40 is growing food, buying food, preparing food, serving food, packing food, storing food and thinking about food.

Being 40 is keeping the extra leaves in the dining room table and surplus chairs nearby for last-minute guests.

Being 40 is hanging on to your brother’s shoulder while watching the the birth of his new baby girl. It is weeping at the beauty of her glorious entrance, her head full of black hair, and the way she moves her lips as if she is trying out her mouth for the first time. Which she kinda is.

Being 40 is knowing more about–but never taming–mother nature. It is puzzling over dead watermelon transplants, shriveled beans, and spotty spinach; it is showing off my heavily-mulched garden paths, and glowing with pride over ruby-red strawberries and an early lettuce crop.

Being 40 is staunchly supporting my local library with over-due book fines. (Besides protesting provincial funding cuts by lobbying government offices.)

Being 40 is watching my husband lift a frame full of honeybees, gently scraping off the burr comb while talking to “his girls” (the bees), and wondering if there is anyone more creative, curious, and productive than the person I married.

Being 40 is craving solitude and silence and long walks alone when I can listen to the wind in the poplars.

Being 40 is dressing, feeding, serving, wiping, directing, disciplining, consoling, talking and listening to other people nearly all of my waking moments.

Being 40 is wondering what to say when my child dives into her bed, sobbing on her pillow while your heart breaks beside hers.

Being 40 is sitting on a beach with friends, who by now almost qualify for the homey title of “old friends”, talking about traditions we have started together with our families.

Being 40 is sliding into my chair at the restaurant, overhearing my mom point out to the waitress that I am the “birthday child”.

Being 40 is feeling grateful that someone still cares for and thinks of me as a child.

Being 40 is inhaling the morning-breath of my two-year old, thankful I still have a child with whom I share a mutual enthusiasm for physical affection.

Being 40 is buying a mini-van at long last and driving around the neighbourhood while my kids roll down the windows of their cavernous ride, shouting the good news of our purchase to all passersby.

Being 40 is remembering what it was like to turn 25 when I lived in Bolivia and ate a gluten-filled cake for the very last time.

Being 40 is taking ridiculously long, hot showers as a small act of rebellion in the face of the conservationist, socially-responsible life we try to lead.

Being 40 is choosing lemonade and water over any cocktail, wine or beer because I still hate the taste of alcohol.

Being 40 is wearing my experience on my skin. It is finding new saggy spots, like the eyelids that don’t stick to my eye-sockets as well as they used to.

Being 40 is strenuously weighing simple decisions while a parade of people marches through my mind. “How will she feel? Will he be happy?” I ask as I consider each person in the clamour and how they will be affected by my choices.

Being 40 is feeling like 17 one day and 57 the next.

Being 40 is waking up on an ordinary day flush with miracles. Breath. The colour green. And candles that mean I’m still alive on this spinning earth.





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