2007: I turn 50

So the music is back…

2007: Turning 50 gives me pause but not much. To celebrate, I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before. Cal and I plan a trip to a private island in Belize where we have a one-room villa with walls that can disappear to make it all open air. In June the iPhone becomes available but only with AT&T. In Provincetown, Pam and I take a walk on the breakwater. I begin to shed things–shoes, jacket, backpack with computer… She will write about this in Contents May Have Shifted. Pam invites me to join her private writing group. We’ll meet twice a year–once at her ranch and once somewhere else–we’ll exchange manuscripts four times a year, and we’ll read a book a month and have an online chat. In August, Jack starts his senior year and Sam starts 8th grade. In September I go to Pam’s ranch, taking 40 pages from a new novel I’m working on. The other women are from all over, but I’m the only one from the east coast. We hike and eat and talk reading and writing. In October Cal and I visit Bobby in Scotland. Early one Saturday, Cal and Jack make a 36-hour trip to California to look at Chapman University. Football fever takes over as Brookstone wins game after game. Jack plays offense and defense, and in a state playoff game, in as a defensive end, he intercepts a pass and scores a touchdown. It surprises me how excited I am. For the only time in my life, I enter a scrapbooking store and spend more time than you can imagine making him a scrapbook. Cal and I listen to Alison Kraus and Robert Plant’s Raising Sand over and over again. Stick with Me Baby… On Christmas Day, when we arrive in Atlanta around noon as we usually do, instead of finding my mother and father in the kitchen, I find only their breakfast dishes. My parents are in the bedroom having coffee. Because my mother continues to drink coffee, I head to the kitchen to clear the counters, get out the warmers, heat up the ovens, find the paper plates. I put out the food as people bring it. Cal carves the turkey. My mother doesn’t say I’m done with the kitchen on Christmas–in fact she says nothing at all about her stopping and my taking over. It’s past time for my turn, but this is so weird. There are 29 of us–my parents, 5 children, 5 spouses, and 17 grandchildren–and we all show up for a late lunch on Christmas Day. 50 books this year, the highlight being Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. In my car, the Dixie Chicks sing Wide Open Spaces…

10 days to 60


She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life


7 thoughts on “2007: I turn 50

  1. It is definitely something to dread. Christmas is such fun for kids and so much work for adults. I always helped, but I guess because my parents kept inviting us to their house, it never occurred to me to say, Okay, but you have to let me take over the kitchen. It’s possible that she didn’t want to give it up but could no longer do it physically. In any event, I’ve been in charge ever since then.

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  2. Christmas is definitely a lot of work. I used to love it but now I dread it. This year we’re going to reduce the gift-giving. Maybe that will put some fun back into it.


  3. Another really rich one, especially given the Christmas scene. I would love to read an entire essay or story about that day–a modern take on “The Dead” but without the dying?! And oh my goodness, yes, you have to get rid of the gift-giving! If you eliminate that piece, the holiday will fill up with color and goodness, again, I promise! Mmm, I can taste the turkey and casseroles right now….

    Love Alison Kraus so much. Why do 2006 and 2007 feel like such an innocent time, now??

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  4. Oh that’s a great idea–why did it never occur to me to write a story about that Christmas Day? I guess until I wrote about it here, I never pulled myself out of the scene…

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