Preparing for this ‘milestone’ birthday has been weird. The most resounding feeling I have is one of ‘having made it this far’. I do feel, when I look over my shoulder at my past, that I could never, ever have imagined ending up here: That I would get to see what fifty looks like from this side.
When I realised I was the same age as the Fleur du Cap theatre awards I got searingly drunk. It sounds so ancient. I decided on the most immature shoes for a group birthday present to compensate. I want to shout from the rooftops, “I still feel 19!”, just like my granny Sophie would say, every birthday, “I don’t feel a day over sixteen.”
But then there are the funny little things. I get upset and outraged when I see schoolkids in their uniforms, smoking. Sis, I think. Don’t they know how terrible that is? But I was that kid. I was exactly that kid. And my reaction is so old womanish.
My friend Justin gave me some photos yesterday; ones he had taken a good few years ago. I was struck by how gorgeous and young we had been, and then I remembered how I felt about myself at the time. It was the same as now. What a waste of goodlookingness.
I remember when my friend, whose birthday is a day before mine although she is 10 years older, turned 40. I was surprised. Then, when she turned 50 I was shocked. And tomorrow she turns 60. It is outrageous.
All those things happen. Years get progressively shorter the longer we are alive. I think my memory is shot, along with my eyes. I can’t go anywhere without my readers. What a terrible word, readers.
And yet, I feel like the terrible, rebellious, outrageous young person I have always been. I still shout. I still have actual fights with people. I still voice my opinion loudly and resolutely, even though most children in Woodstock probably think of me as ‘daai mal ou tannie from number 14’.
What a journey. What an amazing time to force friends and family to do something hard, and amazing and celebratory with me. I am honoured to be alive in your presence. You are all my chosens.