Today the sun is shining and the birds are singing in Rio - today is my birthday. 60. Do you remember when you heard your grandmother or your mother was 60 and you thought, ‘that's so old’. Well let me tell you it isn’t. I would say that it is just as confusing to be 60 as it was at 16, 20 or 40. I would say that in every decade there is a new set of thoughts and feeling to be conquered, to be understood.
I would say that this past year was one of the hard ones. I lost my one very best friend. I fought the gain of excess pounds, diet and exercise, diet and exercise – eating, sneaking chocolates, baking cookies, did I say eating – diet and exercise, diet and exercise just to end the year where I started – 156 lbs with a slightly different distribution. I have begun to see white hair mixed with my dirty blond, the hair is thinner and the cut I have always worn no longer works – what to do with that? Do I go to color? Permanents which Camillo hates? My skin is now definitely wrinkled. Years of outdoor work and play in the sun, has left my skin as an old lady’s skin, with trips to the dermatologist at least every 4 months to remove spots, and scales and other odd looking stuff from face, arms and chest; a fortune in moisture and other anti-aging junk bought and used.
And this year I seemed to question just what I want the next 40 years to be like. When you’re 20 or even 40 you don’t have these questions – this feeling of uncertainty, fear of making the wrong choices, of desperation that time is too short are all new feelings. Feeling to be conquered – to be understood.
A jump to a slightly new topic – Last week after the churrasco two American women and I were chatting. The youngest of the three of us was talking about her father, comments he would make and the resulting feeling of insecurity she has. The older woman says ‘I don’t ever let things people say upset me. It is their problem if they don’t like me’ or something of that order. She an only child, adored by her father, growing up with supreme confidence – a strong ego. While the younger woman and I, both from large families – not the oldest not the youngest of many - both with critical fathers, both with apparently low to non-existent egos. I say this – that I have problems speaking in large groups, that I often find myself shy and unsure. This very self assured woman laughs and says – “you could have fooled me – none of this showed today.” I am astounded, it feels like a light switch was thrown. This is the first time she has met me, she sees me moving from group to group at the churrasco, making sure everyone is served, they have what they need, that they have someone to talk to at all times, doing a little dance now and then when the music moves me ….. seeming supremely self assured – confident. I was thinking later after everyone was gone – is that women she saw who I am now….? Did she see the real me, have I moved away from the other person, have I lost that little girl somewhere along the way. Has this life in Brazil metamorphosed me (not sure this is a real word but it communicates the right feeling), without me knowing it? Has surviving in this foreign land helped me in ways I would never have suspected? To learn to communicate even without good language skills, to know I can take a bus or a plane OR a taxi any place I want to in this land of the Portuguese language. Out of boredom deciding to take spinning classes and BOXING lessons – using what is available to me in this life instead of pining for what WAS at home – has this changed me into a supremely confident person? (maybe a reach but is possible) These are the question in front of me on the first day of my 61st year.
Today I would say yes to these question – without realizing the difference I am no longer that girl. This is the benefit to sixty years of learning. This is a change that happens with time, with experience, with age.