I find myself thinking back to other "milestone" birthdays in my life.
18 was "legal" age in my home province when I was growing up (still is). Being a January baby, I was the first one of my friends to turn 18 (in January 1979), and at any rate, many of my closest friends were actually a year younger than me, in my sister's class.
(I'm not sure I've told this story on this blog, but here it is...!) One of our friends hosted a surprise party for me, with all of our friends (from school band) attending. Despite the fact that all of them were younger than me, there was alcohol. My sister's best friend, who had just turned 16 -- the Baptist minister's daughter, no less (!) -- had little experience with drinking, and had two different guys bringing her drinks (without each other knowing) -- and was downing them like they were Kool-Aid. She got very, very drunk, threw up all over herself, and passed out. She had a curfew -- and her parents started calling to find out where she was. At one point, we dumped her in a cold shower to try to sober her up. Her parents called again to say they were coming to get her. One of the guys had to carry her out to the car -- she was heavy and he DROPPED her in the snow, right in front of her horrified father -- who promptly took her to the hospital, where they pumped her stomach -- and then tried to pump her for information as to who had been at the party and who had served her the alcohol. She said she couldn't remember (and she probably didn't...!).
Needless to say, the party broke up soon after they left -- which was a good thing because, since she was a minor, the hospital notified the police -- who paid the party host a visit, well after midnight. They woke up everyone in the house and confiscated the contents of my friend/host's mom's liquor cabinet (which I still feel guilty about, 40+ years later -- she was a lovely lady...). As I said, I was the only person at the party who'd been of legal age. I was terrified that I'd be held responsible, and jumped every time the phone rang for weeks afterward...!
I don't really remember what I did when I turned 20 in 1981. I *think* my boyfriend at the time (not dh) & I went out for pizza and to a movie. I remember the next birthday (21 in 1982 -- which is also a milestone birthday, in some jurisdictions!) much better. I went out for dinner with a girlfriend & then we went downtown to see the (very long, but wildly romantic) movie "Reds" with Warren Beatty & Diane Keaton at one of those grand old movie palaces that are in sadly short supply these days. I think we even sat in the balcony! And then we walked (across a bridge near the beautiful legislature building, in softly falling snow) to an ice cream parlour in a trendy section of the city and had sundaes. :) (Needless to say, on a cold winter's night in January, we had the place to ourselves, lol.) And then back to my dorm at the university, where my sister (who lived in another dorm on campus) was waiting with a cake that my mom had given her money to buy. My dorm floormates all sang "Happy Birthday" to me and gave me the "royal bumps" before having cake. It was a great birthday. :) I had my entire adult life ahead of me -- and, within days, I would go to a social (dance) where I'd connect with a cute guy from Toronto, whom I'd met earlier that fall at another party. ;) (Guess who?) I didn't know it then, but my life was about to change in some pretty big ways. I still think of those years at university as some of the best times of my life.
My mom turned 50 less than a week before I turned 30 (in January 1991), and we shared a cake when I was home at Christmastime. Mom had NOT been happy about turning 30, 20 years earlier (in January 1971). This was back in the days when young people were telling each other not to trust anyone over 30, and 30 seemed like "over the hill." (I KNOW, right??) As a gag, the neighbours (all of them older than she was) presented her with a box full of things she'd need as she turned 30: a pair of old-fashioned lace-up shoes (with a note attached: "For your old feet"), a pair of wire-rimmed "granny glasses" ("For your old eyes"), a corset ("For your old body"), etc. Mom saved the box and its contents, and when one of those friends' daughters turned 30 -- a few years before I did -- she was presented with "the box." As soon as I unwrapped "the box" myself, I knew what it was, lol.
I had a good job that I liked, we'd been married five years and just bought a house that spring -- and I knew that sometime in the next few years, we'd start that family we'd always wanted. The future was wide open...
What a difference 10 years makes. Turning 40 (in January 2001) was another matter altogether. I was still in the same job, same house, but right in the middle of fertility treatments -- a last-chance, desperate attempt to get pregnant again, following the stillbirth of my daughter at 26 weeks, 2 & 1/2 years earlier. I spent my actual birthday getting pampered at a downtown spa (massage, facial, manicure & pedicure and lunch) -- but I spent part of that weekend at (drumroll please...) a baby shower for one of dh's cousins. Just what every bereaved mother/childless-not-by-choice/infertility patient wants to do on her FORTIETH birthday weekend, right??
A week or two later, I noticed this funny, burning/itching bubbly-looking patch on my neck. Dh happened to have a doctor's appointment the next morning, so I tagged along and asked if the doctor could have a quick look at me too. He took one look and said, "I think it's shingles."
SHINGLES?? He told me it can be stress induced. (Stressed? Who, me?? Why on earth would I be stressed, right?? :p ) He promptly wrote me a prescription, which helped nip the spread in the bud, thank goodness.... but it took them a few weeks to disappear.
I regard my 40s through a haze, as a kind of lost decade. Six months after my 40th birthday, my third IUI cycle failed. A few weeks after that, I had a scary episode that I thought might be a heart attack, but turned out to be a panic attack. Then I had another one, and another. I knew I couldn't continue with fertility treatments & stay sane (never mind the drain on our bank account...!). We went on vacation for a few weeks to the serenity of the Oregon coast, surrounded by loving family members, and when we returned, we never went back to the RE's office.
It took me a good five years to come to some level of acceptance that I was not going to have children, that this was my life now... so now what?
I think I'm still trying to figure out the answer to that one...
By the time I turned 50 (in 2011), I had discovered blogging. (You can read my thoughts on turning 50 here.) I spent the day at the spa, again. When I look back now, it feels like my early 50s were mostly about socking away money and surviving the increasing pressure I felt at work, with the goal of early retirement at 55 (or 56, when I'd been with the company 30 years). MAYBE 60. (Because, as someone who didn't have kids to feed, clothe or send to college, I could!)(Silver linings...)
But by the time Birthday #55 rolled around (January 2016 -- relevant blog post here), I had lost my job. My severance package was on the verge of running out, and my early retirement pension was about to kick in, and we were about to put our house of unfulfilled dreams on the market (after 26 years living there), move across the metropolitan area and buy a condo -- with my dh dragging me there, kicking & screaming all the way. In retrospect, it's been a good move for us -- got us out of the rut we'd been in, and closer to dh's brother and our nephews. We love the condo, and while not everything has been perfect, I am glad we made the move (and cleared out our house), and did it now and not 20 years from now.
It's hard to believe we've been in this condo almost five years. Our two wonderful nephews are now grown up and married, and we have an adorable little great-nephew who brightens all our lives. Sadly, our time with him in this first precious year of his life has been cut short by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Likewise, any thoughts we had of FINALLY getting to do some of the travelling we've been talking about for years have been postponed. :(
This time last year, looking out the window at grey skies and freezing rain, I vowed that my 60th birthday would (finally) be spent on a beach somewhere. Oh well...!
Sixty years goes by fast, people. One day you're 20, then you're 40, and suddenly you're 60. Enjoy your life, and make the most of your time here. I haven't always done that (and COVID sure isn't helping matters...!) -- but for every 2020, there's also a 1982 (see birthday #21 ;) ). And as long as there's a tomorrow, we can just keep on trying. ;)