I started to write there are so many things I forgot, but really there are so many things I remember.
Here are a few I remembered after the fact–being a Brownie leader, spending every New Year’s Eve until graduate school cooking a fancy meal with friends, sending Bobby to Harlem when I was trying to send him to the Threepenny Opera, a conversation with Peyton Manning that let me know the charm of my youth was gone, watching Heroes on Monday nights from 2006-2010, Friday Night Lights on Tuesday nights from 2006-2011, Glee on Tuesdays/Sundays from 2009-2015, Parenthood from 2010-2015, binge watching House of Cards in 2013.
Last night I discovered this line in Carolyn Heilbrun’s The Last Gift of Time–Life Beyond Sixty:
What one remembers is, I think, a clue to what one wants to be.
2016: Exhausted from the holidays, I arrive in Provincetown in a drenching rain storm. By the time I unload my suitcase and the groceries from the rental into the house behind the wharf house (which is closed for January and February), I’m drenched and standing in a puddle. The next day I wake up with fever. In a few days, the #1truething project is not only over but has worked its magic. At the end of 365 days, I’m now out of whatever hole I’d gotten myself into. I’ve recovered who I was and who I am. And more enormous good news–after months of looking for a house in Provincetown that I love as much as the wharf house, I’ve persuaded the owner of the wharf house to sell it. You just rent it, I said. I love it. But lots of potential road blocks–including a mortgage. My new Massachusetts lawyer and I become best friends. Still, I stay sick for weeks and weeks. I gain 10 pounds. At my six months’ endocrinology checkup in late March, my blood work shows hypothyroidism. Finally an answer. Mid-April I start taking a pill every morning and begin to feel better. I spend my birthday at AWP in LA. The week after that is Writing by Writers in Boulder. And the week after that, I close on the house. In May we add a new WxW event in the Methow Valley of Washington State. At the Seattle airport I pick up Ron Carlson and Andre Dubus, great teachers and WxW regulars, and we start the 5-hour drive west. Sam graduates from college, and even Jack flies in from LA for the weekend event. I rent my little house to pay the mortgage. Family vacation in Florida. Visits to and from the kids, who are now 35, 29, 27, 23–and living in Texas, Alabama, California, and North Carolina. I put a Stronger Together bumper sticker on my Prius. In NY, Cal and I stay at the Park Lane, where they upgrade us to a huge suite on the 46th floor with a mirror-lined dressing room and a living room and a dining room and a piano and so many closets I can’t count, and stairs to the outside, where we can walk all the way around the building. A once-in-a-lifetime experience. Amidst woodland creatures, Ro turns one and we go to Birmingham for the party. I hang a Hillary flag on my house. October is Tomales Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a major clean-out of my closet. After months of worry and posting and talking, it looks as if Hillary will win. I vote and settle in to watch the first woman elected president. But the results come in with too much red. I don’t leave the TV. When she concedes, I burst into tears. The next morning I pack up the Hillary dolls I’d bought for each of the little ones, but thankfully Kathleen persuades me to give them out anyway. The resistance begins. A few days later, WxW is in Lake Tahoe for boot camp. In December, my mother falls, and my parents, now 83, need even more help. After five years, my agent and I decide to part ways. 34 books this year–my favorite is easy, Patti Smith’s M Train. My playlist for the year includes 51 songs–Anthem Lights’ Wildest Dreams, Indigo Girls’ Closer to Fine, Natalie Taylor’s Latch, Emily Barker’s Nostalgia, Ryn Weaver’s Traveling Song…And 107 days in Provincetown, with a record stay in the fall of 19 days. It goes so fast.
She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life
I have written it on my calendar for tomorrow “Cynthia’s Birthday!” but I am fretting that I’ll forget to send you an email full of good wishes and cheer. So a day early, just to be safe, HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. xx Louise
Thank you, Louise!!! xo
Cynthia, Happy Birthday tomorrow, and take heart. The sixties were actually one of my favorite decades. As long as I stayed healthy, it was a great time to travel, to try new things (like Zumba), and to enjoy my grandchildren. As you look back over your posts leading up to the big day I hope you are aware, as I am, of all you have done, all you have accomplished. It’s been a very full life and will continue to be so!!!
Dorothy, thank you for your lovely words. In most groups these days, I seem to be the oldest, so it’s particularly nice to hear from someone who’s scouting ahead and looking back on where I am now. And this series of posts has certainly proved to me I’ve been on this planet for 60 years!
At this point I’m just astonished at the range of music you listen to. Very, very impressive to pay so much attention to contemporary music your entire life, and to be able to enjoy it so much. Thank goodness you got an answer to the medical problem, and congrats on the Provincetown dream house. All I can say about that: WOW.
Re the catastrophe that was our 2016 election, I thought HRC was going to lose but had convinced myself that day that I was probably just being foolish. By 9:30 or 10:00, can’t remember now, I knew it was all over–I was watching the precincts in Florida, Ohio, and Michigan, and it was all going wrong. I, too, burst into tears. Pat was in the restroom so I told him it was impossible for HRC to win and I was going to bed. He cut off the TV and followed a few minutes later. What a rotten, rotten night. We hardly slept for the horror and anxiety. And I was in a terrible state for weeks. RESIST.
I hope you have a lovely birthday planned tomorrow, something worthy of this delightful string of posts. 60 looks absolutely gorgeous on you, Cyn.
Thanks, Claire! And thanks for commenting on every single post in the series–I looked forward to what might catch your younger eye. Such fun to share the journey in this way. All much appreciated. And now I have this week’s featured journal to look forward to–onward!
Oh, I enjoyed the series so much, I’m sad to see it stop. But of course tying it to this end was part of it’s charm. Yes, onward!
And today you ARE 60! I hope you have a wonderful day, Cynthia 🙂 Love this pic of you, too! oxox
Happy Birthday, Cynthia! 😀 oxox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEkhzs88CBU
Thank you, Donna!!!