The Puzzle of Turning 50

This is probably the first time in I can’t remember how long that I did not have a blog in the works at least five days before my normal post-time of Monday evenings. I have to say, it didn’t feel great! Or, maybe, it shouldn’t feel great. Right? I’ve been super ‘on time’ with my blogs for nearly two years now – keeping my self on a very regular writing schedule of draft-edit-edit-edit-post that begins at least a week prior. Of course, there are some canned entries for weeks when I can’t wrap my head around writing – but none seem appropriate to post just after a weekend of, well, awesome. Things did start getting a little out of kilter this year, 2021, when I decided to throw write a book into the writing schedule formerly taken up by post a blog. That meant reworking my weeks to include days for blog writing and days for book writing – at a minimum. Somedays are better than others – I’ll work on a blog and then continue if feeling a writer’s high and jump over to book business. Other days basically suck – where I stare at a blank page for one or the other wondering if anything useful is going to come out. The last week did not include writing blocks that fell into either category. Sure, something useful very well may have come out, except I was having too busy turning fifty to sit down for any clickity-clack time.

Oh right. Spoiler alert. I did make it to fifty. I even tried to stay up until the clock struck midnight leading into my birthday to ensure that I would make it – packed bag under the bed just in case I needed to flee from zombies sent by a cruel last minute twist of fate. I read the clock at 11:53pm and, on the next blink, it was 3:00am. Which is when fifty years olds pee. The morning of my birthday, I woke up with the birds – which is status quo for me whenever something exciting is happening in my life. This is true of vacations, holidays, dentist appointments, and the After Party Store at Lilly’s. It starts sometimes weeks before – when I should be preloading restful nights to get me through said event. Instead, I wake up early as a loop kicks off in my brain about whatever it is that is about to happen. I start rehearsing various ways that my life may play out, who will be present, and prep any speeches that may be necessary.

I do hope someday I mature out of this.

But that wasn’t this year.

Having no idea what Rich had planned for my birthday, I had no choice but to start thinking about it sometime between one and five am each day for the entire month of March. This was not preferable as the best assumption I could make was that I would like to be awake for whatever he did have planned – and that what was preferable for him was for me not to be cranky with exhaustion before we even found our festivities sweet spot. But, yeah. Try explaining that to a female brain in overdrive. Okay, right, you just need to go back to sleep. Does that actually work? Or is it the norm for that thought to be followed by whichever Taylor Swift song was written for whatever you are experiencing at that very moment? In this process of obsessing, it did cross my mind a few times that I could poke out a blog while I was laying awake in the middle of the night – but again, what about? How I was trying to type under the covers by pushing the letters on the keyboard down slowly and softly as possible so I didn’t wake anybody (person or animal) up?

My drop dead day of do a first draft is Thursday. I paid no mind because I was off on Friday from work – I knew I’d have all day to write whenever I wanted. Except I also scheduled tennis. I scheduled tennis between a visit with one friend and lunch with another. Still, I had the whole afternoon. Maybe. I still wasn’t sure what the plan was. I asked Rich when he would be done working – and like a total vault, he said something super vague like oh, I can wrap it up at any time. So, I recovered a chair…played with the dogs…pushed Add to Cart a few times…and did not write a blog. Finally, I was sent out of view of the kitchen at about 4pm as piece number one was put into place – Rich and the kids would be cooking dinner at home and I wasn’t welcome to watch.

Two things here. Rich knows 4pm is prime napping time and if he ever suggests I do anything at all to relax around this time, I will immediately sprint up the stairs and into bed, working my way into my nap outfit. Well-played. Also, I’d had a very (now awkward) vocal meltdown just two days prior sparked by no one else every cooking dinner in the house or sensing via ESP that I’d wanted them to. So….yeah. Whoops.

An few hours later, a text came from the floor below asking for assistance with the toaster oven. Uh, pass. I was far, far, far under the covers. The plea came again it won’t turn on. I offered to Facetime. No, you really need to come look. I think we need a new one. Sigh. He knew this would get me. I hate spending money on things I can’t eat or wear. I threw back the covers and headed for the stairs and just before I took the first step, I caught myself. What if this was a ploy? What if they were all sitting at the table already and I showed up in my napping outfit? I backtracked for pants and to push a brush through my hair. THANK GOD. As I turned off the stairs and into the living room, I found that my best and longest friend was waiting with her NEW dog and husband (he’s not new, but he is one of my faves).

Thank GOD for the pants!!

These are my people. I’ve known A for 32 years now, something my kids cannot even fathom. She has been through it all with me – starting with the transition into college and then the one into the real world and then all the other transitions including the one into middle age. We used to talk finals and first jobs, now we talk menopause and colonoscopies. She’s seen me at my worst (and lowest) probably more than anyone else in the world and lifts me up each and every time, and never with a tone of you’re being a moron. Well, maybe sometimes, when I’m being a moron. The hardest part of moving to the south twenty-three years ago was moving away from her as she truly felt like my own personal lifeguard helping me get through my twenties. She is the kind of friend that everyone should aim for – unconditional, low maintenance, and able to make me feel tall. Our conversations can take long, long pauses and then pick right back up immediately as if we just hung up the phone minutes prior. We often think our lives are totally different – yet, each time we compare notes, we find that the emotions/reactions/struggles are the same. When visiting, she always has the coffee brewed before I wake up, which is a total five star move. Although, I suspect she knows that once the caffeinated scent hits me, I will forgo my usual sleep-in to get more time with her. Our husbands fit together like a pair of gloves – which makes sense since they each had to pass strict best friend tests. When the four of us get together, there is no easing into being a pack – we just melt right back to where ever we left off as if we’d only set down the book of us for a minute before picking it up again and opening it to the next chapter.

So, yes, seeing them sitting in my living room with no inkling of it happening was absolutely perfect.

This is where I should probably give all details of the 48 hours, but I’ll skip that – most of it would include you had to be there moments that would not translate. The short version is that we had a big family dinner Friday night at home, a night out with friends on Saturday and lots of catching up in the in-betweens.

Commercial Break: The Puzzle. Worthy of sharing. About a week before my birthday, I got a couple cards in the mail – nothing strange about that. Included in the cards were individual puzzle pieces. That was strange. I casually announced to the house that I wasn’t sure what that meant and all parties immediately put their heads down, suddenly busy with something that could not wait. Ah. Okay. The next day, more cards, more puzzle pieces. I started noting who the cards were from and tried to piece together which person was the common thread. I’d think I had the responsible party figured out and then a card would arrive from someone whom I knew didn’t fit into that mold. Every day, more cards, more puzzle pieces. I heard from so many folks (amazing, really!) and the puzzle pieces piled up. This was not ideal – I am terrible at puzzles. I would take a few minutes to stare at the pieces, eventually letting Zack offer assistance (yes, my color blind child can put together puzzle pieces faster than I), but mostly left confused. More cards, more pieces.

And here is the mystery solved: This was an event put together by one of my local sidekicks involving the collection of fifty addresses, a letter sent to each with a puzzle piece, and a requested return of said piece via a birthday card. In the end, we have a fifty piece puzzle and fifty wonderful cards from so many different ‘places’ in my life. I can’t imagine the work that went into this nor her ability to keep it a secret – including at a lunch date during which I pontificated to the master mind a list possible culprits and declared my dislike of puzzles. Okay, maybe I did like this puzzle. Or I will – when I finish it…mail is not at top speed these days. End of break.

I do have to give the MVP award for the festivities to Rich. For those that aren’t familiar with this gem of a person – he is not a planner. Period. It basically gives him anxiety. It’s also why we work together so well – I truly believe that for every ADHD person out there, there is an OCD person just waiting to be their match. Much of my life is spent keeping him organized and on task, done happily as much of his life is spent bringing me back down to earth from spreadsheet and list heaven. He stepped so far out of his comfort zone for this that it was both mentally and physically exhausting – and the person he would normally turn to for help was also the one whom he was keeping all details hidden from. I imagine he got a cold chill when he was asked for the fifty addresses of Puzzle Gate. His notes for our Friday dinner alone were four pages long, with arrival times and cooking times and who would sit where and what would be cooked in which appliance. I cannot even express how much effort this took for him – all because he (always) wants me to feel special.

And then there was me – staring at our surprise-to-me-guests, trying to wrap my head around having guests present in the house house without days of prepping or cleaning or laying out towels or making goody bags. Is that a thing? Do people just show up without notice (to me) and it all ends up okay? Evidently, yes. It turns out you can drop in anytime and I will not have a total panic attack at not being ready. This realization may have been the greatest gift of all for this lover of lists.

So yes, Rich, the weekend was very special in ways you did not even predict.

And I am in awe of every ounce of elbow grease you put into organizing the whole thing.

And yes, I did feel very special.

I always do.

One thought on “The Puzzle of Turning 50

  1. So glad you figured it out: you are very special to very many! NOW quit it on the age stuff. Not only is 50 the new 35, but if you don’t get back all the pieces you can’t claim that age. So your friends and readers best get crackin’!

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