This post is going to be as random as my 36th birthday which kicked off at a farm show in Woodstock and was cheered to in several wineries throughout pastoral Prince Edward County. The celebrations hit a fever pitch at the Whetung Pow Wow and set with the sun on a boat in Buckhorn Lake.
I was as spoiled as a potato salad in the July sun. There was champagne, a fondant cake too artistic to slice into, Cajun shrimp, butter chicken, oily fry bread, corn soup, fiery jerk pizza—and even Labatt’s 50 at the Queen’s Pub in some wayward lakeside town with Faith Hill on the juke box. I scooped up panko- dusted brie and raspberry preserves, bacon and cream cheese stuffed mushroom caps and tasted the legs and nose of malbecs and merlots reminiscent of beef and bricks, in a very good way.
In June of this year I was in Amsterdam, on another boat, toasting a very integral friend’s 50th birthday. We sat on the yacht, feeling very much like royalty, floating by lavender fields dotted with pudgy sheep, working on Lynne’s list of must-do`s in her 50th year. The checklist bounced dramatically in effort, from eating a Big Mac and a deep-fried Mars Bar to zip-lining to watching Brokeback Mountain, to drinking absinthe and a glittery New York weekend.
Naturally I began thinking of what I wanted to do in my ‘new’ year. Birthdays have always been my alternate date for New Year’s Resolutions. By September I have reassessed and refined what seems still worthy from the inspired list I come up with on January 1st. There are responsible things I feel like I should do like see an opera and a ballet. And Gone With the Wind. There are things I don’t have to do ever again, like scuba diving and white water rafting. There are new travel destinations that pull at me stronger, for unexplainable reasons and I write down revisions that include Egypt and the Bolivian Salt Flats versus a January infatuation with Portugal and Maui. These places I will see in time.
There are simpler things like eating spaghetti squash. I never have. And until this weekend, I had never tried instant coffee either. I have yet to eat a greasy breakfast at the much-hyped House on Parliament which is a minute walk from my home. That’s doable and necessary, maybe tomorrow even.
At 36 I feel a greater foundation below my feet balanced by an even deeper laissez faire-ness, which some might view as dangerous. My NOW horoscope this week quoted German aphorist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: “Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.” I’ve always been reliably Switzerland, and I took this birthday horoscope as gospel, because my true homeostasis relies on peace of mind.
Acknowledging this, I’ve decided that I don’t have to be friends with all my ex-girlfriends. I don’t have to watch the entire box set of thirtysomething, even though at New Year’s I thought it was something I wanted and needed to do. A younger version of me might make a point of enduring the box set because I said I would, but I’ve come to realize that we are all so consumed with doing the things we verbalized that we’re not even keeping track of anyone else.
As I walked along the congestion of Bloor street today, thinking of spaghetti squash and thirtysomething, I saw an advert for Visa that was so pivotal, I actually stopped in my tracks and scratched it down in a notebook with dwindling blank pages. “Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can at it.”
The Oprah in me that has extra tentacles and tendrils for a-ha moments felt a shift on the value and weight of today. What did I learn? What did I feel? Did I throw enough paint on the canvas?
I think so. I purposely sought out a new coffee shop on Bloor called Snakes & Lattes. The shop has over 1,500 board games available to play while you sip on something warm and wonderful. I have always viewed board games as bored games, but, I was still curious. And this is important too. Did I satisfy some curiosity today? Yes. (Editor’s note: no games were played and the latte scored 2 stars out of 5 on my Jitter Scale).
Did I eat something out of the ordinary? Yes. A spicy eggplant pocket from Pusateri’s stuffed with parmesan, grilled red peppers and garlic.
Did I do something random? Yes. I veered by the Carlton Theatre and decided to see a sappy rom-com on a whim (Go the Distance with Drew Barrymore).
Did I have a conversation that moved me? One that made me think beyond my tidy life? Yes. An innocent $14 haircut with Yasmin on Yonge evolved into her sharing the intense, life-sculpting story of having to evacuate Uganda under Idi Amin’s rule at 13. She told me of the drunken, belligerent soldiers firing bullets into the ceiling of her home, her mother, ragged and weeping as they rough-housed her father. The gun held against her younger brother’s head. How the chauffeur saved their lives and they were put on a flight to Montreal that very night. She flew out of the Entebbe airport, never to return to her homeland again.
And it comes back to circles, and how nothing in our lives is very random at all. I have been in the Entebbe airport, feeling very different emotions than Yasmin did so many years ago. I have stood on the tarmac that altered many African lives forever.
We’re all connected in such intimately close and infinitely awesome ways. As long as we take those minutes to find out how.
This is when life sneaks in. I walked home after the movie, hands shoved deep in my jean pockets, my eyes trained on the almost-full moon suspended over my sleepy Cabbagetown neighbourhood and thought about all these things.
I will add American Gigolo to my movie list and re-read Catcher in the Rye. I will eat eggs over easy with sausage and buttered toast at the House on Parliament. I will take my parents to the Hungarian restaurant I checked out on Bloor that supposedly has the best wiener schnitzel and cold cherry soup in Toronto. I will eat spaghetti squash and read the books that I want and cross off the ones I no longer long to read. There is so much new in everyday that I can keep changing my lists and resolutions and all that I will and need to do. And this is okay.
We paint our own canvas, and leave broad brush strokes on so many others. Thank you to everyone who has helped fill in the spaces on mine. Let`s paint 36.
And here’s what I was doing and musing upon at 35: https://julestorti.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/35/