Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Happiness :: Birthday Edition

Tomorrow is my birthday. My forty-second.

I was going to write a witty (I wish!) post about what I want for my birthday. I still might, so you're not out of the woods, yet.

But in looking around for a picture, I found this one, and so I'm going to bore you with a story, instead.

Here I am, at the bar at Buffet de la Gare, the most perfect example of a French bistro that can be found in these parts, without having to take a plane(or a train, for that matter.) I am here to celebrate my birthday, with girlfriends, earlier this month.

But I have to tell you, that the first time I came here still holds such resonance in my heart, that I can not return without being steeped in love and family and memory.

I was turning thirty. I had a newborn baby, my first. I had moved back to the suburbs from the city, was learning how to be a mother, re-learning how to be a daughter who now needed a grandmother for her own daughter, and was re-folding my self into the family I had inevitably pushed away from. When I write those words, I am envisioning the movement a swimmer makes, when they push off the wall after a dizzying flip turn, to shoot themselves back in the direction from which they just came.

My brother Glenn and his wife had arranged a party to celebrate. Me. They arranged it all, as they have so many things for me, since they met and fell in love when I was all of five years old. If I ever needed somewhere to look for an example of what love is, other than my own parents, I have never needed to look far.

That birthday at Buffet de la Gare was memorable for so many reasons. It was the first time I had ever left my baby with a sitter. It was a glamorous night with red wine, and cassoulet, and creme brulee, and a dark brown silk nightgown wrapped up in tissue paper. I felt, for perhaps the first time, like a grown-up. Someone who would be brought out to such a place for their birthday. Someone who would be given a negligee. Someone who needed a sitter.

But I mostly remember this: in the car on the way to the restaurant, my brother asked me what I had thought my life would be like at thirty. And if I was happy now that I was there.

And my answer? I had always hoped that by thirty I would be married, and have a house, and have a baby. So...yes! Was.I.ever.happy.


If you've been paying attention here, you may know that my answer was not the end of my story. But it wasn't not the truth, either. Maybe what I know now, twelve years later, is that the question my brother asked, can't be answered easily, completely, or immediately. That there is a sliding scale that has to take into account what you know you want, know you need, and what you are capable of being, before you can spit out a final rating on what's what.

So, there I sat in that restaurant again, last week. They've done some renovations and the new owners are back. It looks lovely.

I didn't need a sitter this time; I had my husband at home, drawing cartoons and shepherding six girls through their bedtime routines. My newborn was doing seventh grade math, and my third newborn was asleep in a big-girl bed. I was with friends the likes of which I never had when I was an isolated new mother, living in the back-of-beyond, and trying to figure it all out. I wasn't that thirty year old anymore, but I didn't feel all that much older, either.

So, what do I have to say now, on the eve of my forty second birthday?

Ask me again, Glenn. Ask me again.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Blogger Amy said...

That's a lovely post Tara. Very honest and beautifully written.

Happy birthday.

Tomorrow is my birthday as well.

January 23, 2009 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Tara! Enjoy being the forty deuce, Clare says it's awesome.

January 23, 2009 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

Happy Birthday Tara! I thought your post was beautiful and very touching. Thank you!

January 23, 2009 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Kathleen said...

How beautiful, Tara.
I love your image of the flip-turn, shooting back into the family you had been moving away from. I've made that turn myself...
Happy birthday, friend.

January 25, 2009 8:00 PM  
Blogger julochka said...

i'm catching up at i hope you had a FANTASTIC birthday! what a beautiful post (i too will turn 42 in two months). i SOOOoo relate to what you say here. don't you absolutely love knowing what you know now? i think this is the best age of far.

happy, happy birthday!

January 26, 2009 4:45 AM  
Blogger Oliag said...

A beautiful post...It has been a long time since I have been 42 and the years from this distance always seem to look wonderful...Have a happy and creative year!

January 24, 2010 1:02 AM  

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