I have a big birthday coming up this weekend. The one that begins with a five. Fifty. I will be turning fifty on Sunday. And you know what? For me it is easier than forty was. Forty was full of angst for me. Fifty is a big "Yeahhhh!" to life.
Those big birthdays seem to invite reflection more than the rest. Fifty is especially so for me. I remember being ten, and twenty, and calculating what year I would turn fifty. Two-thousand-and-seven! 2007! You must be kidding was all I could think at the time. The shift in centuries made it seem even more distant and foreign.
But here I am, or very nearly so. And it seems the looking back is more compressed than the look forward. It made me think of a string. Looking forward the string is stretched out......farther than we can ever see or even imagine. But as the days pass, we pull that string in to us. As we pull, the string forms a pile next to us. Tangled at times perhaps, but all right there. Compressed and visible.
Ten: We moved into the house that I now live in again as an adult. New school, new teacher, new friends. It was a neighborhood full of kids. There were plenty of kickball games in front of our house. With my family alone, we had nearly enough to get a game going. And there was lots of time drawing. My best friend at the time was my next door neighbor, Carol. I can remember the two of us sitting on the step outside, drawing. Back then, I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.
Twenty: I was in college, studying chemistry, at an engineering school. I think the summer I turned twenty, I was in New Jersey working for a chemical company in a co-op job. That was when I realized I was not going to be able to do this the rest of my life. Working in a lab. When I wasn't working that summer, I spent a lot of time drawing. By the end of the summer, I decided to get the degree in chemistry, but figure out something else to do with it.
Thirty: I was living in Connecticut now. I had been in Ohio for six years. Four in sales, and then two getting my MBA. I was still trying to make it work. I was back with the same company I started working with after college. And I was working for one of the best bosses I ever had. And he gave me lots of freedom to pursue my ideas. But I was also taking classes here and there. Drawing. Photography. Watercolor. And I was traveling more.
Forty: Married. Two young girls. I had left the corporate world. In theory temporarily. But in my heart, permanently. But now what. I needed to work. Not for the money as much as the satisfaction of work. Money was tight, but we were getting by. I had started my first business. Custom window treatments. I developed a color vocabulary that was broader and deeper. I played with pattern and design. I loved and hated that job. I loved the color, the design, and working for myself. I hated the custom side of it, and all that entailed.
Fifty: Finally. I am doing what I wanted to do since I was ten years old, or maybe younger. I love what I do. And what strikes me is how I always knew this is what I wanted to be and do. But I was waiting for someone to give me permission. The only person who could, or would was me. And I finally did. Hooray!! So fifty feels younger than forty did. Maybe even younger than thirty in some ways. Fifty feels more at peace.
To celebrate this major birthday, I bought myself two gifts when I visited the Paradise City show on Monday. I told my husband he is giving me one....and I am going to love it! And my daughters are giving me the other.
The first, is this beautiful pendant from Barbara Sperling. I have admired her work from my first exposure to it. I already own a pair of her bleeding heart earrings, and gave my mother one of her heron pins years ago. But this weekend she had some of her new work at the show, and I got myself a gorgeous pendant. Don't you agree??
At first, Barbara thought that it was sold to someone else, and I was going to settle for a pair of earrings. I loved the earrings, but I truly adored this pendant. She put the earrings aside for me, and I assured her I would be buying one or the other. As it turned out, the other person was not able to buy the pendant, and it was mine.......
But......in the meantime, I was consoling my loss of the pendant with a pair of earrings from Louise Fisher Cozzi. I had loved some of her new earrings I had seen at Craft Boston, but never got a chance to get a pair then. So, yesterday I did.
The top section of the earrings are a transfer, and the bottom is silk screened. Aren't they cool? And they have her signature finish of gold on the edges. And, as it turns out they might actually work with the pendant.
I am truly not as self indulgent as this splurge might suggest. Many holidays or birthdays have slipped by without a gift. So this indulgence was one that celebrates a great place in my life, and the talents of two wonderful artists. It might be another ten years before I treat myself like this. So I am just going to enjoy this.