My Fabulous 40th Birthday isn't meant to be a monologue. It's a collective conversation among all of us turning 40, which is why I am so thrilled that my friend Ana has agreed to share her story with us today.
Ana is one of my college roommates and most treasured friends. She started writing this on Friday night, the eve of her 40th birthday, and finished it up over the weekend. Thanks for sharing and Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday. xo
I am perhaps one of the most technically unsavvy 39 year-olds on this planet and never thought I would be blogging, but then again, there are many things I never thought I would do. For instance, I never thought I would be the kind of person to have a mid-life crisis (affectionately referred to among my inner circle as MLC) but here I am on the eve of my 40th birthday in the midst of doing exactly that.
Unlike KC who seems to be embracing her 40th, I have been edging slowly forward, kicking and screaming. Partly because, as has already been pointed out on this blog, I don't feel forty inside. I have been known to wail at my children, "I can be a lot of fun!" I can't possibly be forty. There is no way I have spent five decades on this planet. I refuse to believe it. That denial is what fuels the MLC. How can my life be half over when I haven't even done anything worthwhile yet?
And so, I ran away.
I packed up my husband and four children (ages 4-11), sent our dog to live with my in-laws and moved to Europe. That was six months ago. We are still here. My friends and family congratulate me on giving my children a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but the truth is, I did it for me. After spending more than a decade putting everyone else first I did something just because I wanted to, and I made everyone else come along for the ride. I thought it would be fun. Besides, 40 year-olds don't do selfish, spontaneous things like move to Europe so that couldn't possibly be me, right?
We have been on quite an adventure...we've been learning Spanish in Madrid. We've been to Marrakesh and spent time trekking in the Atlas mountains. We've been to the village of Valbonne in the south of France and celebrated Halloween with a friend of mine from high school and her family. We've been skiing in the Austrian alps in the tiny village of Lech. We've been to Salzburg, Vienna and Linz. We've been to Prague and the Nazi camp at Terezin. We've been to Rome and Sicily....my daughter and I are going to Paris next week.
Will my children remember all of this? I'm not sure. If they remember the magnitude of the Coliseum or the opera we saw in Vienna or the taste of the Linzer torte or the Velasquez paintings at the Prado or how cold we were at Terezin even with our North Face parkas or the view from the amphitheater in Taormina or the smell of the spices we bought in the souk during our cooking class in Marrakesh then perhaps that will be enough to lead them back when they are older and encourage them to seek out new places to visit.
Even though I did it for me, I hope they have gotten more out of my MLC than if I had bought myself a Ferrari. What have I gotten out of it? Time away from my "real" life to figure out what is worthwhile and what it is I want to spend my next 40 years doing so I don't look back at 80 and not have an answer to that same question.
SURPRISE! In the midst of writing this three of my friends from home and their husbands have flown over and surprised me for my birthday. What an amazing birthday present.
Yes, I do plan on going home but in the meantime we have a few more things to do before we leave. I think I'll start by going dancing with my girlfriends until 4am just like I did when I was in my twenties.