I was so excited to be turning 40, I was running with open arms to the big number, when the big day finally arrived, I got the shits. I was forced to leave work early as a result. I had the shits in the literal sense, not in the Australian slang way.
I couldn’t believe it all these months, days, hours counting down to the big four zero, then HELLO…. welcome to your forties – diarrhoea. I was none too impressed. It was a definite downer to be sure. I went home and slept for three and half hours. It is hard work turning 40.
So as you can see my actual birth day did not inspire me to document my feelings of turning 40 like I had originally planned. I am not sure if the few random blog followers would want to be hearing about the nausea, the abdominal cramps – yes I know enough already. What can you do? I decided to write the day off.
I chose to focus on my 40th birthday party.
I hired a hall, I hired a band. It is not every day that you turn 40 (thank God cause look how great that day turned out). I wanted to “publicly acknowledge a significant event with a social gathering” as defined in the Oxford dictionary. The whole big party thing was just as much for me as it was for those that I invited. It is important to celebrate the people in your life.
We are all influenced and shaped by the people we meet in life, the older you get the more groups of people you collect. Some of those individuals are with you for all of it, some come in, star for a while, and then exit stage left. So when thinking about who to invite to my shindig it was hard not to invite those characters that were significant players even if I hadn’t seen them for years.
The night was going swimmingly- the tables were filling with amazing collections of salads and desserts that my friends and families brought to share. Shane was cooking for the masses on the BBQ. My children were running through and around the McKees Hill Soldier memorial hall circa 1950 with many other children. I could feel the joyous energy. The vibe was great and the band hadn’t even started yet.
It was the speeches that undid me. My husband spoke we have been together for 19 years and married for 12. So if we do the maths I have known him almost half of my life. His words were kind, he spoke of the travel that we have done together, the joint years of parenting. As he was talking I was thinking of all the unsaid words, the rut-vile moments, the groundhog days the stuff that isn’t represented on Facebook.
One memory came to me from left field. I was thinking of a moment 9 years ago. Hamish was 7 weeks old, we were making Liam and Hamish Dance Muppet style to Elvis Presley’s “Little less conversation”. There was a look between us that is deep and clear within- the look was in capitals – WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE DONE?
Both of us had left full time permanent positons in QLD to move to the north coast. Shane was teaching casually, this day was the first day that the phone hadn’t rung, I know what we were both thinking -what if the phone never rings how will we survive? As the boys were giggling being made to dance to the King with their parents moving their arms and legs about for them. I think we both shared another look that this time thankfully, was not in capitals- it was a look that had some sort of acceptance between us that ‘everything’ would all be alright. Again as he looked over to me on the night of my 40th birthday I thought “How lucky am I?”
Clare my oldest friend from school read a letter that I wrote to her in 1993 just before I left for my exchange year to Germany. Her speech destabilised me. I was emotionally side swiped as she read the words I had carefully chosen as a 17 year old just finishing year 12. It was something else to be hearing them read back to me 23 years later as a 40 year old woman now with a husband, 3 beautiful boys, surrounded by a hall full of people that liked me, maybe even loved me. It was too much I was overwhelmed with love. I was surrounded by my people. I belonged. I have a rich life, it has been, and still is blessed. I have travelled. I have loved. I am loved. I have collected experiences. I have connected with many people and made great relationships.
“If you studied Elliot’s “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” you would understand that without our memories we are unable to make claim to who we are.
It is by our memory that we are individuals and our memories- good and bad- are unique to us “memory you have the key”.
My memories are a part of me; are me. So therefore those who feature in the magical theatre of my mind will be with me, and a part of me forever”.
Amie Browning 1993