Wow! What a birthday party. What an orchestration. I turned 50 on February 5th and decided to have my big celebration at Ing Doi guesthouse in Pai, Thailand. I was pretty sure no one would come except maybe the residents of the guest house. Well, I was wrong.
G Schulz came from Santa Cruz and we rented the big house (above) and I asked Mink (owner of Ing Doi) if she would cook for us. She and La cooked all day and rolled out a fabulous spread (see video) of Italian and Thai food. Dianna helped with the travel logistics of friends. Anon and Mark from Om Garden brought the fabulous carrot and chocolate cakes. Meka and his friends Layard, Malek, and Michael (from the States) came and decorated the house with flowers picked from around the property. Sebby was the most incredible DJ keeping us dancing until almost 1 am. Larry came from Portland. Prairie and her hella cute son Sean and daughter Hope came from Beijing. Dianna came from about 100 feet away where she lives at Ing Doi. Mike came from Pai and Meh the local massage therapist came with her friend A. Paul the Hat provided candles.
Most dear of all the guests was Sebastian. I hadn’t seen him in 2 years. He ended a self-imposed communication blackout by showing up in Pai. I was so nervous with anticipation of his arrival. But when I saw him at the bus station amid the bustling crowds, everything settled down. I was delighted to see him and hear his voice in person. The period of non-communication was a very valuable tool in letting go of him once and for all. The flames simply had to be put out and I had to go on with my life which I did and actually had an enormously good time doing so. Sebastian’s coming to my party cemented a life-long friendship for the future…a friendship of closeness and support and most importantly independence. He had his cabin. I had the big house. This was more than just a small gesture. Sebby is now happily teaching in Hong Kong and promised to visit me in Kuala Lumpur when I achieve my half-century resolution of becoming an ex-pat. (Sorry, America, you lost your way.)
Saying goodbye to Sebastian has always been a terribly painful ritual at airports and train stations, drenching his shoulder with tears. But this one at the Chiang Mai airport was strangely easy and cheerful. We waved at each other as I went through security bound for Bangkok and he for Hong Kong. He left with dry shoulders. I went on to Bangkok to continue my celebrating at Babylon.
I apologize for not making the most wonderful video but I was a bit consumed with something called ENJOYING MYSELF! This party was the first party I’ve had that I really got to just let go and have fun. Thank you so much to those who made it happen: G, Sebby, Larry, Jake, Mink & La, Dianna, Mark and Anon, Layard, Malek, and Meka. You all rocked the big house, the rice paddies, and my heart. Fifty sounds old but it isn’t. Watch the video…
Here’s a montage of photos. Click on one and then use the arrows to advance through them.
A little epilogue...
Funny but years ago ensnared by melancholy and feeling ugly and unloveable, I told my friend Ida that I didn’t want to live beyond 50. I was certain that 50 years was enough struggling through a life I wasn’t that committed to. But a few things happened about a year ago: paying off the house I found some financial independence at last. In addition I made peace with my limitations — a big relief for a perfectionist and idealist. One other thing happened in Thailand this year…it just kind of hit me on the head: bad circumstance happens all the time but resentment about it is a choice. Whoa. Where did THAT come from? When I got that piece of wisdom suddenly I felt that I could free up a lot of space in my brain that was previously reserved for being angry at those who don’t meet my high expectations.
I’ve heard about this legendary midlife easing. Is it that we just become too worn down by life that we can’t expend the energy being irritated by it as much? Is it that we realize our statoin in life and make some peace with what we can and cannot do? Is it hormonal? Probably all the above but now I can definitely feel it. I sorta wish it had arrived in my angst-filled 30s and 40s but alas, there are no shortcuts in life. And I’m not resenting it, right?! You get to that peaceful place when you do. If you do. I hope you do. (And it comes and goes, honestly.)
My newfound financial freedom in concert with being unshackled from melancholy and resentment are hard-earned evolutions in a life. Let this not be misconstrued as smugness. I’m EXTREMELY grateful for the resilience and lightness in my heart as I head into the second half (hah!) of my life. Many people have helped me get to this point. Here’s a short list: my parents Gaye and Don Gilmore, my grandfather Philip DeSanto, my little brother Sean, Jean Sward, Tom Truss, Trish Haines, Nancy Barton, Ida Plotkin, Sebastian Bock, Alex Matuszeski, Rob Zonfrelli, Richard Szubin, Liz Sparks, Leza Carter, Erik Revere, Angela Hagen, Jeanne Nader, Gillian Kendall, Larry Hermsen, Lois Manowitz, Dianna Wiegner, Gerald Schulz, Habib Kritt, Michael Wells, January Handl, Marjana Stanko, Therese Bagshaw, Charlie Seltzer, Collin Brown, Amrit Donaldson, John Brennan, Steve Prenzlauer, Jun Chai, Ning and Jinjing, Conrad Johnson, Sky Evergreen, Bill Fultz, John Johnson, Nancy Reeder, Gregg Cassin, Lawrence Grodeska, Scott Simmons, Grant Howard, Ben Haggard…gosh the list of people living and dead is really long.
Generally speaking, thank you to anyone who has ever hugged my skinny body, held my hand when I was scared, looked into my eyes when I was crying and said a kind thing to me when I needed to hear it. Thank you to those who told me I had some value in this world, slept next to me, sang with me, created some art with me, called out my name in a passionate moment and told me you loved me even if you only meant it in the moment. YOU are why I am alive. And for those of you who didn’t, who pushed me out or gave up and left because I might have been too much of a handful for you, don’t worry, I get it. Forgiveness is the better part of joy.
Next stop Tucson.