Monday, April 23, 2018

Reflections at Forty

First, as I type, I immediately increase the font size so that I can see better.

My glasses now have an additional bit of “extra help” for reading, and I see an occasional strand of gray on my head.

I don’t feel old, not exactly. The fibromyalgia makes my body feel old and decrepit at times, but I am still me underneath it all. I’m full of wonder, I love to laugh, to play games, to learn, to read. Still the same as I was thirty years ago at ten – a child who liked climbing trees, fencing, going to the library and bringing home a stack of books.  

On my tenth birthday, I got my military ID card, a rite of passage for Army brats. With it, I could shop at the PX (Post Exchange) on my own. I remember the day I got it, running back to my house across a green field, so happy that when a car stopped to let me cross the road, I felt myself throwing happiness at the driver.

My twentieth birthday was more subdued. At twenty, my thyroid was no longer working right, and my dreams seemed to be slipping away from me. I was no longer strong enough to be feel invincible. I had thought of joining the (Israeli) Army, but I couldn’t stay awake and on my feet full days anymore. Thyroid medicine helped, but it couldn’t fix the underlying changes in my body.

I felt fears – fear that I wouldn’t marry, would never write a novel, would never have good friends. I became depressed, and my sister (best sister in the world!) took me in for a few days. She took me to a garden nursery to see beautiful flowers. She bought me some new clothes. And she took me to watch her daughter dance with all of the preschoolers and kindergarteners in the new amphitheater in the new city of Modiin, for the Israel’s Yovel –Jubilee.

On Yom Haatzmaut night, my mother and I watched the show in the amphitheater. It was a showing of only local talent, and it laughed about leaving Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and finally finding parking. There was joking about the chugim – the extra-curricular activities that are so plentiful here. There was so much hope for Modiin. My spirits rose.

Years pass. At thirty, I’d realized my dream of being a wife and mother.

And now, forty. I have a loving husband, three children, two cats who will never replace the dog who spent my twenties and most of my thirties with me, an extended family I love, and friends and a community I couldn’t have imagined, certainly twenty years ago, but probably not ten years ago either.

And Modiin – it has grown. Now on Yom Haatzmaut, we have top names at our celebration. We have fireworks three times that night. The amphitheater is full to capacity, and people mill around beyond its borders.  The small town I saw in 1998 is now a city; we too have parking problems, but we also have green grass, large parks, and plenty of chugim for our children.

I look back at how much has changed in the last twenty years. Yaakov and I spent my fortieth birthday with friends, watching my children play with Lego, talking about art and juggling and cats and life in general. We grilled meat, and enjoyed the fresh air and the incredible weather.
We came home and put our beautiful children to bed. I think forty is going to be ok.