Nine years and eleven months ago I was married, trying in vain to conceive, living in Los Angeles, both of my parents and my grandmothers were still alive and I had never flown over seas before even though I’d been dreaming about it since as early as I can remember.
Standing on The Great Wall of China a few days ago, as my eyes scanned the incredible view, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m actually here.” Playful butterflies flitted on the wall’s path and I thought of my mom, dad and grandmas and how proud they would be of me, and as I drank a beer at tower six before racing down the mountain on a fun as hell toboggan ride, I thought of my boyfriend, my life partner of seven years, and how much he would have LOVED this adventure.
My thirties have been a wild ride of world travel, adventures beyond my craziest imaginings, being in a relationship that sets me free, a handful of worthy career achievements and a move from where I grew up to the city where all of my dreams are coming true; New York. Even though my thirties have also wrung me out with tears over the toughest decision I’ve ever made which was to end my marriage and give up on my hope of having children, to the unexpected loss of both of my parents who were only 61 and 65, grief and joy have so shaped who I am over the last decade that I can’t help but have gratitude for all of it.
This woman, the one exploring China, hiking up sacred Buddha Mountain, wandering around night markets, having tea with strangers using gestures and smiles because neither speaks the other’s language, taking selfies with monks and monkeys, visiting pandas, getting on a bus to another town by herself to visit ghost mountain and being taught by strangers how to eat Szechuan food “family style;” this is the woman my thirties has produced.
I love her.
I really do! I love her attitude and curiosity. I love her bravery and sense of humor. I love her compassion with others and herself. This woman, the one who laughs when the weather takes a turn for the worse, the one who doesn’t mind getting lost in a strange city where she doesn’t speak the language, the one who doesn’t think or worry too much about the future: this is the woman of my dreams. I know how vain and narcissistic this may sound and yet, this woman doesn’t care!
Goodbye, thirties! You’ve done your job. You have delivered so many blows and so many joys. You’ve marched me forward and along the way you’ve helped me drop the veil of shame and meekness. You’ve seen me shed the skin of doubt and embrace my sexual power. You’ve led me off the well worn path and down so many alleys full of curiosities and delights. You’ve opened my mind so wide helping me discover that I’m a writer and very recently a teacher. You’ve taught me that I can not only survive grief but that I can draw strength from it, too. Thirties, to say that I’m going to miss you would be a lie, because you also taught me how to let go and live in the moment.
I’m wrapping up my thirties with an extraordinary adventure in China and then in two weeks I’ll be back in New York enjoying summer nights with my favorite guy and seeing my friends whom I just adore while re-immersing myself into the theatre community where I still after all these years feel a strong sense of belonging. In July, I hope to be in glorious Crescent City with my lover listening to live jazz and blowing out a candle in a Beignet at the Cafe Du Monde. Let the powdered sugar fly because this woman will not be wearing black!
I really haven’t thought beyond July. I’m ready to let my forties surprise me. I’m holding my arms wide open ready to embrace whatever is to come. This woman is ready.
Images (from top): Buddha Mountain; Ciqikou market in Chongqing; The Warrior.