I have rather mixed emotions... At the same time, it's nice to know that the last year is something that I've survived, and have indeed gained wisdom, strength of character, and a jarring dose of lessons from a painful reality. Since I have started my 33rd year, I have lost my job of 11 years, lost my marriage of 5 years, and lost what I considered at one time to be my soul mate. There has been a lot of betrayal, a lot of pain, and a lot of tears.
But I have also found who my true friends are (and I mean TRUE friends), have gained an extraordinary amount of perspective on what's important in my life, and have learned to value myself as a person more than at any time before. I've also learned to go for what I love, to grab life by the balls, and do things that I've only ever dreamed... because in the end, it's all about the experiences.
They say that you can only know happiness after knowing sorrow. Dearest readers, I have known some small amounts of sorrow this last year... and I am now just beginning to understand the incredible potential for happiness and exhilaration that is possible after experiencing such things. The only thing missing is my mother, but she's with me in spirit always, so I just have to listen and I hear her giving me advice.
So yea, 33 is a good year to leave behind... so why the mixed emotions? Because 34 just feels really damn old!!! (Just kidding...)
On a more mundane and immediate note, I have to admit, the last day of "33" also started out a little rough... I had a jarring awakening by my phone, which I accidentally left on 'vibrate' mode and scared the crap out of me when the alarm went off. And for some reason, I must have been wearing a sign that said "run into me" because about 12 people bumped me on the way to the subway. I felt rather invisible. (I call these unpleasant days "invisible days", and usually they're annoying, but not grating.... today, for some reason, was different.) One lady almost sat on my lap in the subway because I was apparently transparent.
When I got to work, I received a call from my bank telling me that there had been an error that they were "attempting to rectify", and that several thousands of dollars in my account had been "misplaced." (How you 'misplace' electronic money is strange to me, but hey, I guess if people can lose something as nebulous as their mind, then I guess a few decimal points really isn't that surprising.)
I figured that this day was pretty much a summation of my last year of my life - a reminder that I didn't matter much to some people as I would like, and that you get screwed sometimes even when you're not paying attention.
On a much happier and more fun note... On Saturday, my four nephews decided to throw me a surprise birthday party, which was - without a doubt - the cutest thing EVER. I think it was the first time they've ever tried to throw a surprise party... When they came to pick me up at the train station after my one hour and seven minute ride on Metro North, I get in the car to a resounding chorus of children yelling "AUNT BETH! AUNT BETH! AUNT BETH!" at the top of their lungs. And their excitement and painful effort to contain the surprise was evident when the four year old excitedly said "Aunt Beth! Guess what! We.. um... we DON'T have a cake!" (This is how four-year-olds keep secrets.) Then, it was even more evident when the 5 year old told me: "You can't go into the basement! Well, you can go in the basement, but you can't go into papa's workshop! But if you want to play darts [the dart board is in the basement] then you can't look at papa's work bench! Because... [at this point the whole car breaks into a rousing chorus of "SSSSSHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"]... uh... because it's clean and we don't want you to see how clean it is!" (It's immediately apparent to me that the basement - and more specifically, papa's workbench, is where the surprise gifts are... the ones that I'm not supposed to know about. Of course, I play along nicely with others...)
Then we had pizza, and my nephews blindfolded me while they brought out the cake (my sister made a TO DIE FOR chocolate cake (*YUM*) complete with the numbers "34" on it (I don't know why she did that... since I told her that I'm only 23.)) and the gifts...which included an edge-only brownie pan, a Costco-sized box of Ghirardelli brownie mix and - and here's the best part - several hand-picked gifts from my nephews. My sister apparently let the boys loose in Wal-Mart and told them that they could pick out gifts for me. How amazingly fabulous is that? I love it!
My eldest nephew (after being deterred from his first choice in the Housewares section) chose a gorgeous blue necklace that matches a sweater that I have perfectly. (Is he destined to be a fashion designer? Who knows... perhaps he's destined to be a psychic, because my bathroom faucet broke the day after my birthday party, and *he* was the one who wanted to go to housewares... hmmm.... Oops, digressing...) Nephew number two chose a beaded barrette, and nephews 3 and 4 chose "sparkly hair bands" that got me some rave reviews in karate last night (by cute boys, by the way... oops, digressing again).
Now if THAT is not a perfect surprise birthday party, I don't know what is! These guys rock my world, I have to say.
The day after this fabulous trip to the country, I finally decided on a gift to give to myself. I know it's a splurge, but after the last 12 years of promises and looking forward to going on this very trip, I am treating myself to an African safari. Yep, that's right! Africa... because it's one place I've wanted to go, and it was supposed to be my 5th anniversary trip. So guess what, life... I'm going to live it! Look out, Big 5... There's a 6-foot blond chic from the Big Apple heading your way for a month-long tour of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. I leave in June... and I'm counting down the days! (and for my NBC friends - how is THAT for burying the lead?)
Now THAT balances out a slew of "invisible days" in every possible way.... Yes, 33 has taught me a lot of lessons that I hoped I'd never have to learn about betrayal, lies and deception. But it's also taught me about some other things that I feel I've taken for granted in my life.
I have a new and overwhelming sense of gratitude for my wonderful family (who throw the best surprise parties ever), me incredible friends who will tell me that they love me any time and show me the perfect examples of compassion whenever I have doubts about the integrity of this world, and my newly found sense of spiritual peace and adrenaline that will propel me past my fears and into my next adventure, whether it be in the throws of the African outback, or the far more dangerous world of New York City dating.
So that's the lesson here, I guess. 33 was rough. But because of the love that I have suddenly had to rely upon to make it through the last year of my life, I'm planning on 34 being an incredible ride... and my friends, you are welcome to take the journey with me. I couldn't have done it without you.