2 and a half years ago, my older sister turned 40. Last year, my other sister turned 40. Yes, as luck would have it, I'm next. No dodging this one. Back in 2012, I read a blog by a woman who was approaching her 39th birthday, and in celebration, she created a bucket list of 39 things that she would like to do before her 39th birthday. Inspired by her list, I decided to create my own list, as I stared down the barrel of my own 40th birthday.
As I sat there, some 30-plus months ago, I struggled a bit. What do I put on this list? I wrote a few things down that I've long wanted to do, such as sky diving or bungee jumping, and then there was that violin of my grandfather's, sitting unused and in need of repair, to learn to play. But many of the things on the other woman's list were things that I had already done - take a cruise to Europe, climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, swim in the waters of the Caribbean. So what to do, what to do.
If you look back at some of my posts from 2012, you'll see that I worked on that list. But I never did get to 40 things. At one point, I amended it and tried to come up with 20 things to do before my 40th birthday. I don't have that list in front of me, so I'm not sure what was on it, but I'm guessing I haven't hit many of those goals. And here I sit, just a mere 23 days from the "BIG" day.
I've known that this day was coming. Some people say that big birthdays "sneak up" on them, but there was no sneaking for me on this one. As I said, with 2 older sisters, each a year older than the other, you know when things like this are around the corner. Also, as one of the youngest members of my high school graduating class, and with the access that Facebook now gives us to one another's lives, I have watched many of my friends tackle the dreaded 4-0. But perhaps it is not so "dreaded" as it once was? Some of my friends have kids going off to college, or even having their own children, while others might still be looking for that Mr. or Ms. "Right." Who is to say which of us is doing it right (or wrong) when it comes to aging? When my Mom hit 40, she had a 20 year old (and a 19 and 18 year old too.) I'm pretty sure I would not have been able to handle that timing myself.
But still, my list looms, almost mocking me as the date approaches. My 30th was interesting - it fell on Yom Kippur, which meant an entire day of fasting, in celebration of my birthday. I was worried that I would end up with a massive headache by the time the cake came around late that night. This year, my day once again falls on a holiday - the first day of Rosh Hashana. So while I won't be fasting on my birthday this year, I will be sitting in Temple for the day. (And then catching a flight to Las Vegas, but I digress.)
Although I didn't complete my list as I had hoped to do, it was occasionally in the back of my mind as the pages of the calendar flipped by. Then, a few months ago, I stumbled across something that made me laugh a bit and stopped me in my tracks. Rob's grandmother passed away at the end of April. While preparing what I wanted to say at her funeral, I went through several of my old journals to see if I had written down any stories about trips, or even something about when I met her. In the midst of all of that, I came across a list I had made in April 2001, a mere 13 years ago. The list was "Things I'd like to do before I'm 40" and it had the following:
- learn to play the violin
- write a song
- write a book
- compose music (at least one piece)
- take horseback riding lessons
- sing on stage in front of a crowd
- see Paris, London, Hawaii
- visit Poland - Auschwitz
- learn to read Torah
- blow the shofar at High Holidays
- sell candy and cookie baskets (even if its only one)
- make my t-shirt quilt
-decorate a wedding cake.
I laughed a bit when I saw the list and marveled at how things had changed. Where was I at in 2001, that my almost 27-year old self would create such a list? I was not yet married, and not even engaged to be married. I did not have children. Rob and I had been dating for about 2 and a half years and I had been a practicing attorney for almost 2. Life certainly looked different.
My 2001 list kind of put my 2013-2014 list into perspective. The things that I looked forward to doing then, in anticipation of a birthday then 13 years away were somewhat different, based on my life experiences to that point. How did I fare on that list? Well, there are a few things I can absolutely cross off, such as blowing shofar at High Holidays (although having done it for many years now, I'm not sure why I ever wanted to do that, haha), and seeing Paris and London and Hawaii (actually, all of them at least twice!). A few others, I can cross off because while I did not accomplish them specifically as written, I think I've accomplished the spirit of what I was thinking at the time. For example, over the past few years, I have sold several crafty-type gift baskets at holiday boutiques and fairs. That counts. Also, while I have not decorated a wedding cake, I've done several birthday cakes for my girls (some with several layers) and also did birthday cakes for Grandma Trudy (some of several layers.) That counts too.
The t-shirt quilt still sits in a box in my spare room, waiting to be put together. I've learned to read a bit of Hebrew and can follow along in the prayer book, but can't chat Torah. I got my grandfather's violin refurbished and restrung but have not taken any lessons to learn to play it. I attended a birthday party with K and rode a horse around the ring with her in front of me, but have not taken any lessons. I've written countless chapters of novels in my head, but have not gotten them down into a book. And I've had several dreams where a song gets stuck in my head and I tell myself to remember it, only to wake up and have it disappear into thin air. These are the things on my list.
When I look back at those wishes, I see that they are a bit more "down to earth" than my current bucket list. I still want to sky dive and I'd still like to bungee jump, but at the same time, I have other things I'd like to do, such as plan a few Bat Mitzvahs for 2 little munchkins I call my own. I'd still like to see Poland, but I'd also like to see the world through my girls eyes. (Having seen Paris with B when she was 3 and a half, I can't wait to see more of the world with them. Her story about the Eiffel Tower and L'Arc de Triumphe giving hugs was just too cute!)
So my lists remain. I've got my "old" list, that my 27 year old self made, from 2001 that I'm still working on and I've got those few things that my 38 year old self added to my "new" list. Even if I don't get to cross any of them off in the next 23 days, I'll keep at it. Who says that 40 has to be "old" or that I have to accomplish any of those things before then? After all, age is just a number, right? Bring it on, 40, bring it on.