On Turning 35 / by Christina Rosalie

Feast - Christina RosalieStudio - Christina RoslieLucky Dollar - Christina RosalieIMG_2740DSC_5638My little boys - Christina RosalieSelf Portrait

Thirty five feels like something. An arrival. A beginning, maybe.   In my head 35 has always been the mythical age I pictured when I thought of what it meant to be "grown up." It was the age I pictured I would be, when, with due process and appropriate seriousness I'd take up all the tasks and undertakings I'd put off in my twenties for more impulsive and less permanent things. It was always the age of someday, always the age I pictured my future self becoming before now.   But now I'm here at that someday. And it struck me with both surprise and odd delight when I realized that I've stopped picturing someday as any other day than right now.   It's true. For whatever reason I've stopped imagining "someday" as an imagined time that exists at any point in my future. Instead of putting things off for some future self to take up, I'm aware now, with each passing day, that there is a grave, bittersweet river of time passing through me.   I have smile lines now. Some days I have dark circles under my eyes. I have stretch marks. I have boys who are no longer babies. I have kids who dress themselves and hold my hands and tell fart jokes and kiss my cheeks. I have a man who I have loved for thirteen years. I have the memory of the landscape of his body at the backs of my lids when I close my eyes, and it is once familiar territory and still new to me. I have days passing, and a dog, and ice on the windshield and sisters and friends with new babies, and these things all insist upon the utterly and poignantly present tense of right now.   The minutes are what matters. Today is some day. Tomorrow is someday. Someday is whatever day it will be when I wake up after today, my eyes blinking with the milky morning light.   So I've arrived at someday. I like that. I like that I've arrived at a point in time when the extent of what I've told myself about my life has been reached--as though the fragile nets of genetic inheritance and childhood could only be cast so far and claim so many of the little silver bellied fish of dreams. I've caught some and others have gone slipping through the nets, and now here I am, arms flung wide in front of the wild, wide, wide ocean.   Is this what it's like for most people? Is 35 the age when time stops in your mind, and only keeps on in your body? Is this when the incongruence begins, when the tenuous alignment of self in heart and self in mirror break apart, one timeline moving on, quite fast, the other staying where it is, gradually slipping backwards into the past? It feels like such a feat of magic: to age, to grow, to become novice and new and experience and old all at once. 35 here I am.  

Like I've done for the past many years, I've made a new list 0f things to attempt and manifest before my next birthday... and I went back over my list from this past year .   This years list was a bit of a catch-all. I surprised myself with several things that I was able to cross off--including watching the sunset on the top of a mountain (in Hawaii) and leaving the country (a weekend in Quebec.) And as is always the case, there were several things I almost achieved--like painting with encaustic (a new friend has volunteered to teach me, we just need to find the time!) and screen printing (I now work in a place that has a gorgeous screen printing studio in the basement, and it's only a matter of time.) Other things were a far cry, and to be honest, I never had the time to even consider them like developing film and throwing a set of bowls. Maybe this year. And still others just evaded me entirely--like hearing Elizabeth Strout, and painting the rooster series (a goal I've had on my list for a few years now, but still, to no avail.)   This year is, I have a feeling will surprise me. It's an open field; an empty garden plot; a shore that the highest tide has left exposed for wandering. It will be a year for wonder. A year of finding things, and mapping them, of following new stars. A year of germination and cultivation. A year to fertilize the new bright shoots of possibility and plans with patience and perseverance.   I haven't always been easy with such things. With the wide open. With the unknown. But one thing that came from the process of writing my book, was learning how to sit in the same place with uncertainty without expectations; to hold my attention there without fleeing or fluttering or forcing anything. Nothing about writing the book, or promoting it, or about the material itself was something I was prepared for. And perhaps that's partly why I've arrived here on the cusp of my birthday without expectation, just here, with a certain gladness, even as I came home tonight, tired after a long week to find that our pipes froze and burst, and water is pouring through our living room ceiling.   At some other point, I might have raged against the injustice, the timing, the way things pile themselves, one on top of another (I'm also feeling a wee bit sick.) But now, no matter. This is just it, this is someday.   This is the someday of my life: broken pipes and subzero temperatures, delicate pink sunsets and the tenderest kisses, chicken salad with bib lettuce, white wine in a glass without a stem, Hemmingway read by the quarter chapter, boys in mis-matched pajamas, the smell of woodsmoke and also of wet drywall, the feeling of thirst at the back of my throat, the restlessness that tugs at me like tides, the longing for being near a shore with tides, the eagle I looked up to see out the window today, the dog lying with all four paws in the air. This, this is my beautiful, reckless, heartbreaking, perfect life.

I'm so glad you join me here to be a part of it! Thank you always! ~ Christina