Ten years ago, I carved out a Saturday and invited whoever wanted to turn up to an all-day cafe crawl. For the transition from 39 to 40, life is a little differently structured. We had a couple of family events the weekend before my birthday, lunch with my coworkers on the day, an ice cream cake with Kel and the kids on the birthday evening, then a shorter (5 cafes – Haven, Devon, Artificer, Edition and Gumption, 8 coffees – filter, espresso, espresso, filter, espresso and filter, piccolo, iced pour-over) cafe crawl on the Saturday following my birthday.
Then we had a larger party at inflatable world for my friends with bouncing-castle-aged friends, in order of how long since I’d seen them. When I was first thinking about it, it seemed like a very odd thing to do for a 40th birthday party – aren’t we supposed to be grown-ups by now? Does everyone in my life feel comfortable coming to a place whose core business is school-aged birthday parties?
But talking to a friend, and thinking about what it would look like to celebrate with friends with younger kids, it sounded like a good idea. We filled the remaining spaces with a few people I see more regularly, but for the most part it was about seeing people with whom I have a long shared history. Looking back at a keepsake I had from my 21st, it was amazing to see how many people from my 21st are still in my life in some way.
Then last night we had a small dinner gathering in a cafe for a bunch of friends I’ve known for a very long time. Despite all that celebrating, there was still not enough space to invite everyone I wanted to catch up with, but for the most part people have been understanding of the constraints.
In this current season of life, where family is more time consuming and I am, again, adjusting to a relatively new job, even though I’m not currently studying, the luxury of spending hours talking to people with no specific agenda is not lost on me.
Looking at the various notes and cards from people, it’s great to have so many well-wishes. I’ve been challenged to spend more time engaging with people beyond the superficial, to try and make a lasting difference in their lives – it seems like this was happening more when I was in my early 20’s than more recently.
It’s only taken a little while to come to terms with forty as an age. I thought I’d made my peace with it not being “old” (whatever that means), but then a typo saw me have to contemplate turning 49, and suddenly I realise there’s more work to be done on that front.
Thanks to all my friends, whether you even knew any of this was happening or not: I appreciate your friendship and encouragement, and look forward to many more years together, if God grants me such years.