Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Life So Far

I turned 40 last month.  Quietly, perfectly and exactly how I dreamed of turning 40... in Paris.

I remember being 25 and visiting Paris for the first time.  I remember falling in love with the city and vowing to return, just once more, to celebrate my 40th birthday.  Chris and I were in the early, careful stages of our relationship and I couldn't have imagined where our lives would lead - separately or together.  I certainly never imagined our passionate pursuit of Paris or that Paris would bring us to London.

I started my 40th birthday with my favourite meal - an omelette nature and a giant  café crème at Le Petit Cler.  Chris and I spent the rest of the day wandering aimlessly through our beloved Paris streets, stopping for mulled wines and macarons.  I bought a sophisticated, age appropriate rose parfum at Annick Goutal and Chris didn't complain when I stopped at every Monoprix.

I wanted to be the kind of woman who celebrates her 40th birthday with a stream of cleverly hashtagged selfies and culturally relevant words of wisdom.  I wanted to be the kind of woman who crazily commemorates this milestone birthday with a hot air balloon ride, a naked yoga class or dinner at a Michelin starred-restaurant.  I really did.  But it's so not me.  It would have felt as forced and contrived as spending a day standing in line at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa.  So not me.

Instead I did exactly as I wanted.  I spent my birthday with the love of my life in the city of our dreams.  No rushing, no fuss, just us two and overwhelming feelings of gratitude and love.

I admit that turning 40 has made me feel more reflective. 

Many of you may know that late last year, I participated in a video where I spoke very personally about my anxiety.  It was a freeing experience and one that has since influenced my outlook and attitude.  I made a conscious decision to open up about my anxiety, both in my personal and professional lives.  Subconsciously, I think this was my way of kick-starting my 40th year and embracing all of my emotional bits and pieces.

Because even at 40, I still feel like I am figuring things out... 

I worry about saying the wrong thing in a way that doesn't feel that distant from my teenage self.  I won't leave the house without make-up, but I hate doing my face.  Especially eyeliner.  I can't put eyeliner on without making a mess and I am 40.  I am still searching for the one dress that 'will change my life', even though there are at least a dozen of them hanging in my closet.  I still get crushes on short men.  I wish I could sleep past 6am.  I am uncomfortable around children, especially babies.  I think I would rather hold a scented ferret than a friend's baby. Sorry! I love Wolford tights, Repetto ballet flats, Marks & Spencer ready-meals, Nespresso, silk scarves, costume jewellery, novels and pocket-sized notebooks.  I miss horseback riding so much.  And part of the reason I walk through Hyde Park every morning is so I can see other people riding.  I am sarcastic.  I don't particularly like being hugged.  Each time Chris leaves London, I can't look at the planes circling over the city because it makes me too sad.  I love junk food and I often eat like I am still in my 20's with the metabolism of a 13 year old boy.  I read before bed every single night, even if it's super late or I have had one too many glasses of wine.  I love smiling at strangers.  I can't drink Champagne.  I get sweaty every time I have to speak in public, whether it's 3 people or 100 people. I hate running but I still consider myself a runner.  I still wear the same running shorts I wore when I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2006.  I say sorry too much.  I spend too much time questioning how I have come to be at this place in my life, rather than just enjoying my life.

I had few expectations when I left Canada just over 18 months ago.  I expected to tolerate London as a means to get us to Paris.  I knew London would be good for my career.  I hoped I would make a few friends and learn to appreciate a bitter ale.  But never thought I would feel at home in London.  I never imagined buying candles and furry pillows for my bijou flat.  I never imagined having friends that would toast me with Champagne and filthy cards for my 40th birthday.  I never imagined my heart would do a happy dance every time my plane touches down at Heathrow.

London feels like home. To both of us.  

My experience in London has been extraordinary.  More than once I have wondered whether I worked really hard or just been really lucky.  When I think back on my 30's, I remember the opportunities and the setbacks.  Both professional and personal.  I didn't always immediately learn from them, but I did take them seriously.  And I think I am now just starting to appreciate their impact and influence.

I have been a lot of things in my 40 years.  I have been a daughter, friend, best friend, girlfriend and wife.  I have been a horse lover, cat rescuer, rider and runner.  I have been impatient, inflexible, furious, and terrified.  I have been heart broken, professionally confused, and almost a writer.  I have been deliriously happy and moved to tears.  I have been, and probably always will be, a bit anxious.

I think the best things I can take into my 40's are an open mind and gratitude.

I was in Italy last week.  As I left the airport in Rome, I started paging through my passport looking at its collection of stamps.  I felt a kind of geeky, and likely age inappropriate, shiver of pleasure.  I felt a huge smile spread across my face.

My life exactly as I imagined it... 



amh said...

Beautifully shared, Erin. Among the people whose paths cross our own for a short time, yours is a voice I hope to hear again and again. Keep writing.

Supremo said...

Erin, I love reading anything that smacks of honesty....really reflective honesty. What a great read. Thank you. xo Shannon

Cassie Piasecki said...

I love everything about this post and everything about you.

Lou Kuiack said...

What a great read this morning! I'm glad chris shared it! I turned 40, 2 1/2 years ago. I can really relate to that teenage feeling and the eating (chocolate for me) junk food like I'm in my 20s lol. How brave you are and absolutely stunning too.
I wish you and chris all the happiness:) you both work so hard and you both deserve the very best.
Great to see your beautiful face.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

You sound so wise and I love how candid and honest you are in this post. Congratulations on turning 40!
You have a great skill set and that attitude of gratitude will take you far.

Duchesse said...

I went to Paris for my 40th birthday too... in December 2012:)

Caitlin Kelly said...

Love this.

I turned 26 in Paris...and 50...and (shriek) last week, 60. Hey, it's still Paris! I had friends who came to join my husband and I from Sweden and London and Paris, so it was a great party, at Les Chouettes.

If I can keep rounding the decades there with my sweetie, life is very good.

LOVE the Rue Cler; spent 2 weeks in a borrowed flat a block from there in December 2015 and spent a lot of time there. Really loved getting to know it.