I have been 60 for 5 days. This does not make me an expert on the topic-I have a year’s time to be this age and see what it means. But here is my take on the birthday week.
I had the sense, in my own self defense, to take a week’s time over turning 60-it was not all that easy. Things that are tough to take sometimes benefit from a little extra time. The instinct to defend oneself-I recommend not interfering with that. I have no problem following a logical train of thought, nor do I have any trouble getting a train of thought to stick to the tracks. So being 60-not one whit different than being 59. Or 54, for that matter, except my knee worked better then. But people don’t live entirely by the beauty of logic; I am no different. I am much more likely to ask myself how I feel about this tree in that place, than what I think about said tree in such place. As much as I admire rational thought, I don’t live by it. How I live-much more complicated and with far fewer conclusions than the aforesaid. Not neat. I have no theorem that neatly wraps up the process of moving from one decade to the next; I was not ready to be 60. I was skeptical-sure I would not like the sixty number next to my name. I was furious in advance. My process is unpredictable even to me-and sure to be messy. Frankly, I dreaded coming up on this birthday-I felt vulnerable, unprepared, and disgusted. How could this have happened to me?
Never mind that the last two weeks of May and first two weeks of June are so packed with work I don’t really sleep-I dream so much about the work at night I wake up exhausted. I cannot rest until everyone has their summer flowers. I am sure you have noticed the days I have missed posting. There were days that got away from me. I chose to make an effort to celebrate. Faced with a birthday that seemed too big to handle, I planned a party. A big party. Why not stare down that which was staring me down? On Thursday night of last week, I was completely undone. A third of my pots were not planted, there were issues with the menu, several jobs needed a change of gears and follow up, my switchboard was lit up-the light was not natural, but nuclear. I had lots of work still waiting. I was beginning to think I had made a terrible mistake, trying to plan a party during such a busy time.
When I dissolve into tears, Buck gets embarrassed, but he stands pat. He clears his throat, and throws his arm around me. What could be better? He encouraged me to cry everything out, and then get going. The Friday before the birthday party-a whole lot got done. Not just for me-but for three clients. I slept soundly Friday night. Saturday morning at 11 I get a package, and a note from a very old, and very, very dear friend who is in Paris with her husband and children. The particulars-they belong to me. But what she wrote me, on the occasion of my 60th, made my eyes well up and spill over. Taking the time to make an occasion of seeing friends-this was a good idea.
My 60th birthday party was last night. I had 60 guests; at my age, I have made a good many friends over the past 20 years. To the last, they have endowed my life. Old and new, my friends are the best. This is what was good about turning 60. I have a history, honored by friends who really care about me. One of them orchestrated an impromptu birthday sonata from all of my friends at that party-many thanks Tom. My oldest friend, Janet-how we have loved each other for decades, rights my life. Fred and Lynn-these two are family. And Jane. All of my friends are family. I am family to them in return.
When I am really old, when I am thinking I might die, all I want around me are the people whom I love. This is the beauty of the 60th birthday. You recognize in a different way there are relationships that matter. They see me, the person, not the age. All of my friends look good to me; I am lucky to have each and every one of them. This is more than good reason to celebrate. Needless to say, I had a great time. A lot of people I met over work, but this was not about work. I have managed to make and sustain friendships.
Janet and I have been close friends for over 25 years. We have gardened together just about every minute of the past 25 years. Her garden-exquisite. Our relationship-extraordinary. Did she come to the 6oth birthday party-oh yes. Love you, Janet. No kidding. Some friends are newer friends, but at my age you figure out pretty quickly what is going to work, and what won’t. My birthday week, pretty perfect. My 6oth birthday party-it was great.