I received an email from one of my sisters this morning, wishing me a happy birthday and enjoyment in the "tail end of [my] 30s." I have never been shy to share my age with others and don't have a problem being 39, but somehow that expression caught me a bit by surprise. These past ten years have been filled with incredible changes: our marriage, the births of our three sons, the deaths of both my parents, jobs in two different schools, apartments in three states. Just looking at that list exhausts me! But what was true about my twenties, has remained true about my thirties-- I've remained open to change and adventure. Some of these changes have been more trying than I expected, but I know I've been stretched, physically and metaphorically, and I continue to grow. Age 39 brings some new challenges and I look forward to feeling physically and mentally strong and fit come 40.
Today I was lucky to spend my birthday with my four favorite fellows. I awoke to presents (books, books and more books in my house) and coffee in bed (my favorite). We then took full advantage of New Haven's International Festival of Arts and Ideas. We hopped on the shuttle bus downtown, which the boys often enjoy more than where we are going-- How's that for a life lesson? We walked up to the green, spread out a picnic blanket, and ate lunch to the sounds of East African music. Although the boys were hungry, sitting and eating were not overly appealing once the music started. They jumped to their feet and danced for the next hour, raising their arms, clapping, marching, swaying back and forth. I loved sitting behind them as they danced with pure joy and instinct, and it made me think that I can not remember a time I was so unselfconscious in my body and movements. Next, we headed to a Japanese drumming performance, which excited the boys for the booming sound and the mimed storytelling, particularly one slapstick scene of a dancer goosing a drummer. Finally, we walked up to the Yale Art Gallery to see this. The boys were the only kids in the gallery this afternoon and their exuberant comments echoed across the space. It was impossible to miss F's excited, "Starry Night! Starry Night!" as we rounded the corner to see Van Goh's stunning work hanging by itself on a pure yellow background. Staring at those thick swirls of paint, layer upon layer, it was truly awe-inspiring thinking, "Wow. This is really it." Not a copy. Not a print. The original, painted well over 100 years ago. And we got to experience it, together. Quite a birthday gift.