Well, I've had some time now to think about what 40 tastes like. It tastes a lot like tortilla chips, salsa and beer...a few of my favorite things. It was an ordinary day in Arizona- my actual birthday. I always eat ice cream for breakfast. I started this tradition in high school because I was feeling sorry for myself that it was vacation and I had no friends around and I had nothing to do. I remember sitting on the back porch in the sunlight. I had slept in and decided that ice cream for breakfast was a perfect way to start my ordinary day. So I do it, still, to make ordinary birthdays seem, well, less ordinary.
We took the kids to old Tucson Studios.
It became even more ordinary when we went to the pool and then went to get Chinese food for dinner. Very ordinary indeed, until Paul Bunyan was up all night with food poisoning. Definitely not ordinary.
Well, this 40 Days of 40 was really a good thing to do because despite my ordinary birth "day" I've had a very extraordinary celebration. A whole lot of love and appreciation from everyone around me. I looked at the world from a different angle and saw what was positive and bright. And if I could pull the camera back and view beyond the last 40 days; if I could view the last 40 years of my life what would I see?
I would see myself as a child eating liverwurst sandwiches and chasing fireflies. Roller skating in my basement to 70's disco music. I see my brother wanting to beat me at everything we ever did together and I see my father, sometimes angry. But I see us playing softball together on the front lawn too. I see my mother's devotion. I see all the coaches and teachers that ever touched my life- mostly grateful for Cramer who taught me how to play field hockey and Mrs. Hammond, who taught me how to type. I'm grateful for my penmanship teacher, too, but I can't remember her name. I'm getting so old.
I see my best friend, Bridget, and I making up radio shows on old recorders that you had to rewind and tape over just to delete something. How my stomach would ache from giggling so hard with her. I remember tears because of mean friends and finally feeling triumphant over their power in high school. I see lots of boys and never really knowing which one to stay in love with. I think I broke a few hearts. I see the stress of choosing a college and the excitement of leaving home for the first time.
I see blood, sweat and tears at Iowa and the shell of a person I was when I left. Empty. Heart broken. Anorexic. Alone. And that's when I met Paul Bunyan. I've known him for 18 years. That's almost half of my life. And I think, I really think, he has fixed what was always broken in me. Doubt. Worry. Anxiety. Fear. Self-deprecation.
We've built a family, a home, an idea here. The last 40 years have been about moving towards that idea. And there are days when I look around and am so grateful that we arrived. But the funny thing is the idea just keeps moving like a piece of moldable clay and so that there really isn't any end to the idea. The list gets things crossed off and then something gets added. But what I see now, that I haven't always seen, is potential. I see possibility. I see piles of rocks that will be a pizza oven and I see piles of wood that will be tree houses and I see apple trees and pear trees that will someday produce fruit. There is so much possibility! I really do believe there is only one man that could have ever changed my outlook on life so astonishingly. I've never had any teacher or coach give me so much confidence in myself as Paul Bunyan has. Or hope for the future. Or belief that it'll all be okay.
I used to prepare for the worst...just so I'd be ready. I'm really excited to spend the next 40 years dreaming for the best. My massage therapist at the spa a few weeks ago said that 40 is like an invisible light switch. I couldn't agree more. A light has gone on inside me. It's bright. And it's shining on that part of me that I haven't really seen yet. I think it's somewhere next to my heart, near my lungs, possibly where my appendix used to be. It's blinking its sign like a beer light in the bar window: "self love".