It was a weird week.
I had a birthday, visited my kids at the University of Oregon, and released my third novel.
All good stuff. Celebratory. Fortunate. (Fortunate is my grandma’s favorite word. She’s 95. Her being in my life is part of why I’m fortunate.)
In the wake of allthegoodstuff, I found myself more often weepy than happy.
Then I felt like a shit for feeling like this.
I have it better than so many. Better than most. I’m a person who finds the joy. I focus on it. Share it.
This week I kept finding myself teary-eyed.
Part of this is due to what’s going on around me—some dear friends and family suffering—which hurts my heart.
Then there’s our country which seems broken, and knowing that some Americans think things are great hurts my heart too.
But that’s a whole other blog post. (And I’ll admit it was easier to write this one when a person I respected was in charge.)
So I’ll trade in that topic for something more personal:
Turning 50 is a trip.
I feel obligated to state 50 IS NOT OLD.
But it’s different than turning 40.
My family was still youngish then. Some friends were still having babies. I was at the beginning of a ten-year experiment to see how this writing gig might go.
Well, it went.
And the release of Forgetting Ophelia felt — for a minute — like the end of something, even though it’s not.
I have at least two more manuscripts to work on—a sequel to Forgetting Ophelia, and a memoir about the marathon I ran when I was 40.
Actually I ran three marathons. Was that really a decade ago?
40 was facing forward. Running forward.
I do more looking back now than I used to.
There are beginnings now, too.
For instance, I’m still at the beginning of our empty nest, and grateful that Jack and Karly are happy, healthy, and at the same university. They like each other and they like Bill and me. (This is better than “loving” which they also do, but people can love members of their family and not want to spend time together. <—Furthermore, wisdom from someone who says “for instance” and “furthermore” must be true.)
In conclusion, we had so much fun on our trip to Eugene, I missed my kids even more when we came home.
The pit in my stomach will pass, but it was in full-force on launch day.
So these most-amazing friends took me to dinner. We ate delicious food. My new book got some lovely reviews. Everything was wonderful (like, dream-come-true wonderful). But the rest of the week, my house was too quiet. Bill was at work. The kids were in Oregon.
I was 50.
I am 50.
(Sometimes I even wear a headband to prove it.)
Also, I get teary-eyed when my ex-students post pictures of their newborns. Tears of joy. Tears of “Oh! They’re at the beginning of it all!”
I guess you could say I’m basically bursting with emotions. My cup runneth over, and the excess dribbles down my face.
So I think I need to thank you all.
For allowing me to ramble here.
For (hopefully) not hating me too much for admitting I get sad sometimes. Even though life is good.
It’s also hard sometimes. Complicated. Mysterious. Littered with unanswerable questions.
Life goes on until it doesn’t. It’s already stopped for people I love who were younger than I am now, or not much older.
I let myself think about that this week. (Cue more tears.)
Then I decided that while my life goes on, I shouldn’t waste time mulling over which big hill to conquer next. I should simply get to the conquering.
A whole new book? Another marathon? I’d love to go back to school, but half the Gardners are in college already, so that will have to wait. Maybe forever.
I don’t know.
Like I said, my week was weird.
One long sigh. An exhale. This existential breath.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll figure out my gameplan for the next 50 years. (My grandfather turns 100 in January, so I’m taking the long view.)
Today I’m going to see if my kids can FaceTime. Work a library shift. Cook dinner for two. Check for new reviews.
And I’ll be thankful.
I am so, so thankful.
You see? Gratitude makes me teary-eyed too.
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Writing is a lonely business and I love to make friends along the way. (Plus, people online don’t know I’m in my pajamas and haven’t brushed my teeth.)