I’ve had a lot of amazing birthdays in my life. There was the time all my little kid friends went to the movies and saw Annie, the infamous Mr. Days dance party covered in yellow caution tape, and my 30th when I jumped out of a plane, rented a room in a bar with DJ Rocco and Spin played a live rock show. Those birthdays were somehow topped by the insane Russian supper club birthday with a live “show” that Bourdain once said felt like “John Waters made a Broadway musical” (This girl sums that experience up perfectly).
But as I lay here with my epic post birthday 40-year-old hangover looking at photos from last night on my phone, I’m insanely happy. The events of this weekend came pretty damn close to perfection and this headache and dehydration are no match for the healing power of being truly chock full of love.
Leading up to this birthday, I dropped some not too subtle hints that I was feeling this milestone a bit more than usual. Yes, there was certainly some looking in the mirror at my thinning grey hair, not so perky boobs and extra chubby stomach longing for the body of my 20’s. But there was mostly examining the state of my life scorecard and trying to figure out where I am on the YOLO spectrum. I’m halfway done (if I’m lucky) with my trips around the sun and I was questioning how I wanted to spend my remaining days on planet earth.
By circumstance, my 40th birthday fell close to a time of great personal upheaval. I went from a 5-year relationship midway through an engagement to a 38-year-old single lady, hard up for money in the midst of a huge career transition that subsequently ended with getting laid off this March. To say that it felt hard approaching a life milestone unemployed, single, and still renting an apartment over a sketchy 24-hour deli would be something of an understatement.
But I’ve come around to thinking ironically about those hurdles. Through them I’ve been strengthened, taught to look deep inside, figure out who the hell I am and adapt to change (which my mom can tell you I’ve never really been good at). None of those events have been easy, but I wouldn’t change them for the world. I’ve done brave crazy shit, ticked off major bucket list items, and finally arrived at a place in my career where I’m confident and getting paid for all my fucking hard work and education. Most importantly, those events have also created a perfect storm to receive more love and support than I ever imagined possible.
One such measure of support came in the form of a recent career seminar, crowd sourced by awesome people. I thought my heart couldn’t feel any fuller than the moment I was ambushed with the news on a surprise conference call. I cried like a damn baby all the way down 1st Avenue.
At the seminar, I learned about narrative intelligence and a little light bulb went on inside. This theory holds that everyone is the starring role in the movie of their own life and as we bounce around from experience to experience we narrate from a story archetype. Some people are rulers, magicians, caregivers, and explorers. Unsurprisingly, I’m basically tied for characters that fall squarely in the “working with others” category. I’m equal parts Jester, Everyman and Lover which in over simplistic terms means I’m an egalitarian comic connector of people. I’m happiest when I’ve created an environment for everyone to meet, learn, laugh and come away with new stories.
Bearing all that in mind, you can imagine a birthday party about me, full of people from all parts of my life, with an amazing view of the spot that accompanies my hardcore life thinking, gives me all the feels.
People were introduced and left to chat among themselves. Drinks and mini grilled cheeses were consumed. Good vibes were spread. I got presents and glasses of wine galore. The sun came out from behind the clouds that then became the dark backdrop to a brilliant sunset. And no joke, there was a freaking rainbow followed immediately by a full moon rise!
Good friends sent a tray of 40 shots all the way from Chicago. My aunt and uncle brought my favorite carrot cake from the Bronx. My mom and dad paid for things on the sly and chatted up all my friends! I was given more ridiculous shots and accompanied direct to my door (after ditching my strapless bra because I give zero fucks what the crackhead after-bar crowd in my neighborhood thinks). This morning capped all that with a tasty brunch and the gift of a private sailboat ride for me and six people of my choosing by my brother and sister in law.
Finally, and I suppose most importantly, last night answered that big lingering life question of what comes beyond 40. And…it was surprisingly simple. From here on out I will strive to remember that so much love exists out there to receive as long as I am really ready to accept it.
So, hard as I’m trying to express here, there really just aren’t enough thankful words for ALL THAT.
My cup runneth over.