A deep and primal hunger rises in me when I’m free of obligation. Images come to mind… my sundress blowing in the Santa Ana winds, Spanish moss in the cypress trees overhead, standing in the shadows of a redwood forest, the crush of Times Square, San Francisco Bay especially with a tiny notebook and mechanical pencil in hand, my finger touching the doorbell of the flat where Tennessee Williams wrote Streetcar. My twenties were an exercise in personal happiness. A life governed entirely by inspiration. It was accompanied by some unpleasantness – working for a director who was verbally abusive, trying to get a Hollywood apartment with no job and no credit, experiencing the pecking order of Nobodies versus Celebrities. But conquering those challenges were empowering. I had enough energy to work a full-time job, audition during lunch hours, hit the gym five nights a week, study acting two days a week and party till sunrise. I’m so grateful for that time. It’s exactly what I wanted out of my twenties. By the end of the decade I began to figure out what really mattered to me.
My thirties were about marriage and mountains… proving ourselves again and again to create our family and then facing all the same mountains that come with parenting. Artistic fulfillment, eclipsed by the miracle of our first baby, then second and third and fourth, was pushed aside and became nothing more than a faint, frustrated cry (a cry I never could ignore). But given the choice of playing with my kids or carving out time to write, playing usually won out. I know how fast time goes; My oldest is in third grade with pierced ears already and it can’t be so, because just yesterday I held my arms out wide and cheered as she stumbled toward me for the first time. Two full hours of my Burning Man road trip were spent crying over how much I already missed my children. This is the push-pull of parenthood, the achingly beautiful dichotomy of it. One part of me flourishes while another withers.
Here I stand at the threshold of forty. I give you yet another one of my famous early exchanges with TC…
TC: I guess some day I’d like to get married. What about you?
Me: Married? Ahhh, like NO.
Me: Well… maybe when I’m like forty and there’s like nothing left.
I am so lucky to have a whole trunk full of youthful wisdom to draw on! Here I stand almost forty with endless possibilities before me. Where I go is largely up to me. There will be fevered nights, vomit, potty-training, tears, nap-strikes, and detours that happen along the way, but this is it: This is my life. I’m alive. We’re healthy. I know at least three very special people who aren’t here to say that. But I’m fortunate enough to be arriving at an age that seemed ridiculously old when I was younger. A whole new decade. Maybe my forties will be about trying new things. Feeding that hunger in me. Or figuring out what that hunger is anyway. More reading. Definitely more sex. And Less. Less chocolate. Less frowning (I can’t afford the wrinkles). Less repeating myself (this entire post is one big repeat, but I can’t help it). A milestone is upon me. On that day I’ll be flying back to Boston with the fam. Less fantasies about plane crashes. More fantasies about safe landings.
I’m in a good place. They say Forty is the new Thirty. And I’m pretty sure Fifty is the new Forty and so on. It’s all good. I’m just glad to be here.