Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birthday! actually, my birthday has come and gone, and naturally I had better things to do than blog, such as gardening, big breakfast, hanging out with buds, karaoke, beach combing, or knitting my new obsession- a leftover yarn scarf (and actually, I just couldn't get it together), but I suppose this is just as good a time as any to muse a little on age.
I'm definitely not one of those folks who require a big party to celebrate each year they've lived. I'd so much rather just reflect on its passing and all the awesome experiences and lessons learned and then, you know, go read a book, or knit.  One year C. and I actually kind of forgot that it was my birthday. It was the best birthday I've ever had.
It seems so long ago now, that I was once 29, at my mother's little cabin with my future husband, blissfully unaware that it was my birthday. At the same time it seems like it happened no more than a year ago that we married and changed our lives forever.
It's amazing to me that I'm as old as I am, that I'm well into my thirties. I don't know what I expected, if anything, but I certainly didn't expect to still be struggling with some of the things I am, or having so easily let go of old hang-ups.

I guess what no one tells you is that you feel pretty much the same with each passing year, only more so, more like yourself. In my twenties I spent a lot of time worrying about my future, about who I might become, how I looked, whether I would ever meet my own dreams, expectations, or life partner.

My 30s? Not so much. These days I mostly worry about enjoy all the little things that make up this present moment; shoveling shit, collecting shells for a project, letters to write, books to read, that mixed-yarn scarf...

As you get older, the number of realistic options you have for an alternate future seem to get somewhat narrower, something that can be a harrowing thought. There are certainly things that I will definitely not be experiencing ever, or ever again at thirty-four. There are others that are unlikely to happen still. But I find this more like a focusing on what I am experiencing rather than limitation of my options in life.

When I was younger, I remember resonating very strongly with this passage from The Bell Jar:

"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.  From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.  One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.  I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.  I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.  ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 7"

Now, I feel like I have my wonderful future, as malleable as it may still be. I don't know when or where exactly it happened, but somehow I made some of those choices, not always for something, but sometimes against something, gave up something, only to arrive, quite unexpectedly, here in the future. It's pretty bright. Even if the weather is a little gloomy sometimes.

Birthdays, parties, twenties, thirties, forties? Yay, nay, yippee?


  1. I am definitely in the fig tree! - I look forward to my thirties as I hope things will be a bit clearer/easier/less daunting! Birthdays are funny aren't they - all the pressure to be great can make them not so much! Many happy returns x

  2. Belated Birthday hugs Milla! I agree with Rachel, birthdays can bring a lot of pressure! They are quite wistful for me: I'm delighted to still be around with each one, but I miss the people who used to make them extra special, in particular my parents. As an only child (like you!) birthdays were a big deal and looked forward to for weeks, sometimes months! Even though I lost my mum nearly 30 years ago, as each birthday rolls around I can't help feeling sad. So a yay and nay from me. I loved hearing about your nearly-forgotten-birthday, that sounds quite wonderful. ;)

  3. "As you get older, the number of realistic options you have for an alternate future seem to get somewhat narrower, something that can be a harrowing thought." This scares the shit out of me. I am slightly panicky realising there are things that i haven't finished. I am a perpetual un-finisher. This is a bad trait of mine. Happy Birthday! If I were there I'd give you a hug and pick a flower for you. I love birthdays, I'm big on Steve remembering, but i very rarely celebrate it with anyone besides Steve and the kids. Just knowing that they know and love me makes it a special day. (That and the presents, bahahahahaha.) I'm turning 37 half way through this year. I still think the 90s happened about 6 years ago. love you. x

  4. I'll be 36 this May.. not on the green side of 35 any more, and I'm not happy with where I am in my life, so I'm not looking forward to another birthday, and another cause for reflection.

    Last year, though, my birthday turned out to be one of the most perfect English summer days imaginable- warm weather, blue sky, bluebells in the woods, spring breeze, birds singing.. and having nothing else to do I got my bike out of the shed and rode out with no plans at all, ending up following one of the old routes through the hills I used to take when I was 17 and took 5 hour just-for-the-fun-of-it bike rides more than twice a week. And it was pretty much the best birthday ever :)

  5. I think the older you get (I am 48. 48?!) it's not that there are less options... they are just different. Other people have different expectations of you and it feels so important to me not to be boxed into a corner by that. I sincerely hope that I won't have any more babies, though they were lovely in my twenties / thirties, and I really want not to find myself in the same job in another 10 years. So somewhere between now and then I will be making changes to my life. I expect I will move house / country. I will definitely knit more and sew more and read more. There are still SO MANY possibilities out there! But for now, like you, I am living in the day to day without any proper plans. And that feels OK.

  6. i have absolutely loved my 30's (i'm 35? nope 34. see, i can't even remember!). my 20's were good but i was way more self conscience of everything. getting older has never bothered me at all. i think you're as old as you feel and i still feel quite young. like good wine, i hope to be improving with age ;D

    parties are cool but i'm just as content spending the day with the fam. i'm glad you had a fun day! and that quote is great. i still haven't read that book! it's been on my list for years.

    love your outfit too! that skirt is adorable :D

  7. oh yes! a birthday package will be going out next week. i'm still waiting for part of it to arrive :D

    1. package? I was gonna write it but felt bashful, but I thought of this outfit, my current fave, as inspired by you ;)

  8. Happy Birthday, Milla, and good morning from the east coast! I'm 55 (what?!) and I just love your blog. I told my daughters (18 and 22) about it and now they love it as well. Thanks for making the world a nicer place:)

  9. yay for celebrating our births. now that i'm a mom, "BIRTH-day" takes on a new meaning: we should celebrate our mothers for bringing us into the world, haha. well really it should be a joint celebration. i'm with anne, being in the thirties is so rad. i remember my post from my 34th birthday slyly mentioning how i'm okay with ageing if i'd just get a damn baby, and now i have! ain't life grand! i love how many of us our in our thirties and feeling young. yay for 40, 48, 55, 63, 78....beyond and beyond into babayaga cronedom.

  10. Hey old lady! I can't agree with you more. I read a fantastic passage in a book recently (in History of Love) about how no one really tells you that you will forever feel the same way you did when you were a teenager inside, and that your parents never really knew what the hell they were doing either. It was something to the affect of the idea that "adulthood" is a big myth, like Santa Clause, that no one ever really tells you doesn't exist.

    I've had so much fun experiencing my 30s. I wouldn't go back to my 20s if you paid me :)

    1. The history of love is MY FAVORITE BOOK. Most days. But seriously. I'm gonna go re-read it right now.

  11. Happy birthday and everyday :) I'm not big into celebrating birthdays. If we do, it's something small. Like have lettukestit outside or order pizza so I don't have to cook :)
    I have everything I need and want, so getting older is no big deal. I'm happy that I no longer strive and entertain grand ambitions!

  12. I think I might be the only twenty-something who's commented! My twenties are much better than my teens ever were. I've found I'm concerned with developing who I am, working through my issues with self-worth, setting goals, and finding love. All seem to be working fairly well. I'd like to be a person who can look back on her twenties when she's in her thirties and say, "Those were some great years, and these will be even better." The future, to me, is like a new-blooming flower, velvet petals unfurling to reveal the nectar within. There's always a new flower, always more nectar. But that's the way of life. :]

    I already sent you a birthday message, but I'll wish you happy times again, because I can, because (hopefully) they'll go toward making your coming days even sweeter than they already will be.