The last of the Birthday roses, verlep as the Afrikaners would say – such a lovely word that, verlep. Like the floppy giving into the last showing before compost. Limp, but still lovely, and I have held onto them for two weeks, a reminder of the birthday day.
Sitting here tonight, much has happened, but one of the main reasons I am now in the midst of one of those gloriously, gusty, frigging gales of an English storm, post repatriation, dodging Covid and all the other horrible scenes of this year, is that I really could not face my birthday, being far from my family. How times have changed. Me, the Birthday giving Queen of all that is performance and splendour of the birthday genre, simply had to be close to my family when I turned the big one after sixty.
Sixty was the game changer. Part relieved that I had made it to the number, and part, here comes the sodding downward spiral – I can’t even really say it, that I am sixty, and now, it’s plus one and the verlepness is more prevalent than ever. A bit like the roses, officially the extra cast member in the play of life, the one you find in the background, like the wife of the tavern or the midwife, all round and flushed, whilst romance, sex and driving ambition is left to the central characters. I was not going to self verlep on my own, an ocean away from my children.
Moments of self wallowing are so permitted in my life. I am the queen of wallowing and thrusting my pitiful self to the gods, wailing and cursing the furies. Quite love that about me. The birthday was a perfect excuse to regress to Lady Macbethean norm – who wants to be sixty-one, divorced, sort of homeless and just a little bit bitter? My mother at sixty one, dare I say I cannot remember, must have been happy with a small, morning tea party (at that time I was being the egotistical doer of all and called her on her birthday) but some of us, oh we just go on teasing the world and trying to find our part to play, still determined to be a viable character, rather than the settled frau.
I digress. My birthday in London was lovely. It was worth flying all those miles back to London. I even got a balloon!
I had forgotten how loved I was. The day was filled with messages, calls and hugs. My family spoilt me with breakfast that lasted till dinner and I was in the midst of all my reason. A day of lovely things and lovely people.
It was me feeling old. Me, feeling chased by age and possibilities I had not explored, challenges I had not faced. It was me feeling that time had gone, memories, like fossilised bones, were haunting. It was me being boring, and afraid.
Two weeks has passed and I keep the roses, the balloon is all ballooned out and the gifts linger for my ‘oh dear, when can I travel’, travel. London is quiet, the world is in limbo, but that doesn’t mean I have to fade away to age and doubts and wondering if the next ten years will be one of wine, weight and settling.
Two weeks hence, the fire is still burning, deep in the belly of hope, optimism and growth. Being so very Churchillian about it all, and while some want to pull the statue down, the man is a hero with the cigar. Like so many other amazing people I am discovering more about, starting with great things after the big 60. We can all decide to settle, be comfortable and pace our little lives like the plodders, or rise to the occasion.
Flip, I felt so old the day before my birthday. Not so much anymore. To lovely things, and you know, it was the people around me that dribbled the courage from the glass of life into me
PS – little gray covered by safely brown – banished to hectic blond, as it should be, and that is just the beginning…
Happy Birthday to moi – and to all of you. This is not the settling time, but the kick ass time. To lovely things and strong, deliberate, convicted belief that My Silver Street is not the colour of our hair, but the mercury that lingers in our veins.