A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sixty Is the New Thirty

Today is my sixtieth birthday. I'm the only one in the family who can bake a cake (well, Cordelia knows how, but she's only got one layer pan, so she never does), and everyone knows Mom wouldn't want an icky store cake, so I haven't had a traditional American birthday party in a few years. But every January 3, my good friend Priya takes me out to lunch, and this year was no exception.

We chose the Green Street Café in Northampton for the celebration. Cordelia works nearby, and my oldest friend, Lorna, swims daily nearby as well, so we made it a foursome. The weather was bitterly cold, as usual (my mother says I was born in a blizzard). But the maître d' seated us near a cozy wood-burning fireplace, so it was all good. I had chard and feta ravioli in a browned butter sauce garnished with braised parsnips and rutabagas, followed by a scrumptious crème brûlée...a perfect winter meal.

Next year, I'll be having corn on the cob and watermelon for my birthday dinner. I've decided to move it to July...July 14, to be exact. Lorna's birthday is July 1; Priya's is July 13; Cordelia's is July 18. Why shouldn't I have a July birthday as well?

July 14 is Bastille Day, the French Independence Day. I'm a Francophile, and at 60, I declare myself independent of the intractable circumstances of my birth. When and if I move to that stone farmhouse in Provence, or that hôtel particulier on l'Ile St-Louis, or that studio in Montmartre, there'll be fireworks every July 14, and it will feel like they're just for me. Or if I'm still here, I'll be back-to-back with Priya and we can celebrate our birthdays together.

January 3 is the day you go back to school after Christmas vacation...or the Sunday before, when you can't even enjoy your holiday because it's coming to an end. It's the day you take the old, dry tree down. The day businesses try to lure you back to the mall with dollar sales, but everyone's too broke and shopped-out to want to do even that. Whereas July 14 is picnics and parades and cookouts and being able to walk around outside with your shoes off because even at night, the pavement is warm.

When I was a teenager and a twentysomething, I thought that by thirty I'd be free of acne and angst, but not yet over the hill. In fact at thirty I was pregnant, anxious, and not feeling serene, attractive or together at all. At forty, the same (well, not pregnant, but dragging around a newborn). At fifty, the same (again, not pregnant, but tending a brood of three). At sixty, I'm just hitting my stride. For me at least, sixty is the new thirty.

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Anonymous Your favorite sister, Leslie said...

Well, sister dear, I, too, can bake a cake, although I seldom do. Too bad we live so far apart, I'm afraid the birthday treat would loose a great deal in the transporting. Bill says, however, it's your fault for not making the trip here for one splendid and sumptuous creation!! Maybe for your next birthday, on July 14......

9:57 AM  

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