Saturday, November 24, 2012

Into the Calm

Birthday Outfit

Turtle Lamp

Thanksgiving Cookies

Today I turned 31.

And you know what?  It was just fine.  Even though there is only one peanut butter bar left, which means I’ll have to bake more tomorrow.  This birthday, which I was anticipating with so much dread, turned out to be a sweetly calm day of grant-revising, light shopping, a pasta dinner (with soysage! and leftover pasta made by a friend! and a delightful salad of shaved fennel and orange slices!), and after-dinner coffee with two friends.  There were dozens (dozens!) of Facebook messages, a few phone calls, some groovy birthday gifts, a walk and a bike ride in the sunshine, and dare I say it?  Contentment.  I was content today.

I had been dreading today because I thought it would send me into a mope spiral over how terrible #30 turned out to be.  In case you’ve forgotten, let me recap the last year of my life for you: two grants rejected, the end of a cherished romance, and the death of one brother.  Despite all that, I think I have maintained my sense of self, and at the center of that is hope.  I am not my losses.  I am what remains when those losses have been turned into something more permanent: compassion, knowledge, wisdom, flexibility.  I will not look back on this year fondly, but I will carry inside of me the hard-won prizes from a year that threatened to take everything away from me.  And I mean everything.

Maybe some day I will contradict myself and look back on #30 with something like sweet sadness for all the pain that it brought.  It brought good things, too, but right now I feel too raw to make myself sift through the year for those gems.  I just want to quietly slide into a new year of my life and hope that it will be better than the last.  I keep thinking of that Counting Crows’ song “A Long December” and the opening lines:

A long December and there’s reason to believe

Maybe this year will be better than the last.

Indeed.  Maybe this year will be better than the last.  I have to at least believe it’s a possibility.  Right now, perched on the edge of #31, it is.


Holly said...

I love everything about this post. And also, I wanted to say sorry about your brother. When I read your post about it last week I was at work and I couldn't comment for some reason, but I've been thinking so SO much about the sentiment of something not being surprising but still being a shock. That was so profound to me.

Anyway...this will be a good year for you. I can just feel it. :) Happy Belated Birthday Rose-Anne!

Rosiecat said...

Holly, thank you for the very, very kind words. I'm glad that Matt's words resonated with you, too--it's a useful way to frame some of the losses that we have to endure.

And thanks for the birthday wishes! I have to go into this year thinking it will be a good one--I'm way too much of an optimist to think otherwise. Which is perhaps why this last year was such a shock to me. I see too much hope and goodness around me to not think that good things are in store for me too. xoxo!

Chrissy (The New Me) said...

Happy birthday, dear! No matter what, a year lived is a year won. I am quite sure that 31 will be better than 30, not because 30 awful (even though it certainly had awful parts) but because each year can't help but be better, since we are a year older, a year wiser, and have another year of experience to draw on and appreciate.

Here's to a new year, and another adventure!

Rosiecat said...

Hear hear, Chrissy! I like your attitude. I think what left me bewildered and befuddled by 30 was the crazy unpredictability of the challenges I faced. I didn't think I'd spend the whole year wondering about my career or half the year in various stages of a break-up. I didn't think I'd suddenly fly home to Michigan to grieve Scott's death with my family. I kinda feel like I have whiplash after all that hardship. But I do recognize that things could have turned out even worse: I'm revising that rejected grant for a resubmission, and Matt and I still talk (and I do like talking to him, too--it's not an act, though I'm still sad about our break-up). As a family, we're still grieving the loss of one of our own, but we recognize that Scott's life was complicated by a disorder that was not easily tamed by medication. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I see nuances in all this bad stuff.

Anyway, thank you for the birthday wishes and for letting me ramble in this comment. I've enjoyed our year blogging together and can't wait to see what 2013 brings for both of us. xoxo!

Raquelita said...

Happy birthday, sweetie! I'm glad to hear that it was a day that brought you a lot of contentment. That salad sounds wonderful. Here's to 31 being a fabulous year for you!

Shannon said...

that is one of my favorite songs! a good year can happen when we least expect it. i'm hoping for the best for you this year! belated happy birthday :)

Rosiecat said...

Thank you, R! The salad is definitely a good one--time to break out the fancy olive oil. My description here is all the recipe you need (season with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt).

It's one of my favorite songs too, Shannon! I admit that I am often drawn to the melancholy--songs, art, even the darkness of winter strikes a sad but beautiful note in my soul. And thank you for the very sweet birthday wishes :-)