So tomorrow is my birthday.
Last one ever in my 30s. How did that happen? A minute ago I was 29, walking out of a bookstore job that drove me crazy - but in hindsight was a lot of fun - and into a job presenting a travel show (that with hindsight I thought would be wonderful but was the biggest nightmare of my life). The same week that I threw a massive party to celebrate 30, I met with a publisher about a teen novel I had written. Life felt exciting after a difficult period. On my actual 30th I went to see 'Blue Crush' and loved it - then husband took me to swanky Italian 'Locanda Locatelli' for dinner; but when my mate - a camp and hilarious TV presenter called Richard Arnold - rang me he thought I said I was going to 'my local Italian' so he tagged along, only realising later that we were having a romantic evening. Or supposed to be. He stayed until the mains were over and then dashed off paying most of the bill.
My 30s spread before me full of potential and excitement. I was happy to rid of the angst and disappointment of my 20s. Not the best decade... 30s - they felt well, womanly - for want of a better word. The time to relax into oneself - now that I knew myself that bit better. Now they are drawing to a close. Only one year left. I've changed careers, moved house, got married and had two children - so it has kept me busy.
Am I where I expected to be? Where I hoped to be? I'm not sure.
Some days are great and I am grateful and happy and ploughing ahead with my crazee plan. Other days I struggle - really fucking struggle - and curse all the choices that brought me here - when I so desperately want to work - so badly need to be with people and chat and laugh and be myself. Some days I am lonely. Some days - like the one in London two weeks ago when I did those interviews - make me feel more alive than anything has done this last year. They remind me of who I am, and who I enjoy most being. I think I like myself best in those moments. When I am lost in a moment - when I meet folk and discover more about them.
The year after Sproglet was born Husband took me on a date - I wore heels and everything - and we headed to a tiny bar in a little old hotel, hidden in a posh part of London, down a cobbled street. We drank martinis fashioned from a trolley by an amazing barman who knew my Husband. He sprayed gin around the glass, shook it dry and then poured in chilled vodka with a lemon twist - slightly charred. One drink and I was a lush. At the next table was a woman and her husband - both in their late 50s... We got talked and spent the night chatting and laughing and sharing. I felt like I had known them for years. They were Canadian, warm and funny - She, Darelene, was a poet and kindly gave me a book of her poetry - and even read from it. I think by the end of the night we had laughed and cried.
As we left Husband knew me well enough to say 'That was your best kind of night wasn't it?' Of course it was. I discovered new people. The same lady wrote to me this week on facebook, inviting me to her holiday home in Mexico. She has survived breast and kidney cancer, and now has two masses on her brain. She is praying to be the warrior I know she is - and to overcome this. I would give anything to share a martini with her in Mexico next winter. It is something to hold onto. A little dream to hope for, for me.
A friend rang me tonight. Someone who knows the very bones of me. Ever dark little nook and cranny - all sides of me - good and bad. She is worried about me. Hates seeing me miserable - the girl she is so used to being full of energy and life and fun. She lived with me in two houses - danced round London with me in my heady single days - traipsed with me on dates, to festivals, to bars, to parties and pulled me away from manys a young boy. Even now she aims to protect me. She offered advice - trying not to judge - hoping to find a solution to the predicament that must face so many women - how to work when childcare makes it too expensive to do so? How to have a life through the crushingly hard early years at home with kids? She knows my struggle - and it is a struggle - and she wants to solve it.
I saw my cousin this week. Her second child is 7 weeks ago - a blissfully slumbering little pink bundle. Her son is just turned 2. She looked so happy - so relaxed, so content, in her big house amidst fields of the farm they own. I wished with all my heart I felt like her. But I don't. I am not her. I can't be in this role - the one that I chose. The one that defines me.
By this time next year, it will be the eve of my 40th. A new chapter, a new decade.
I swear to god I won't be sitting here. I will be working. I will be earning. I will be... somewhere else. I will have a whole new chapter of me to begin. I will not be lonely. I WILL NOT be writing this blog post AGAIN for the 50 millionth time - wondering yet again, what to do and how to do it.
IT WILL BE DIFFERENT.
Then, I will join Darlene and sink some fabulous Martinis in Mexico. I think she'd like that.