But do you know this idea of the imaginary homeland? Once you set out from the shore on your little boat, once you embark, you'll never truly be at home again. What you've left behind exists only in your memory, and your ideal place becomes some strange imaginary concoction of all you've left behind at every stop. - Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs
Turning 40 is where I draw a line in the sand between then and now. I will end this Blog today and once the itch to write strikes again, post forty, will start working on something new.
My deepest desire is to publish Fluent as an Ebook and/or Print Copy and hope that it is read. If just a few people were to reach out to me in the future saying "Your book made me feel less alone and confused, thank you. I love your writing." It would fill me with such joy that I actually start to tear up just thinking about it. To be witnessed and appreciated for my honesty is worth more to me than any paycheck or applause.
Writing connects my thoughts and feelings in a way speaking never has. When I try to express myself before I've written my thoughts down, they come out too quickly, or muddled; I stutter and my hands start to flail and gesticulate as if I am trying to play charades instead.
My goal in publishing this Blog was always the truth: the painful, embarrassing, shameful heart of what was happening in the moment. In the writing and processing of those experiences I was usually able to find the humor, humility or strength to continue living through it. I would say this Blog is a memoir of opinions, reflections and observations during several stages of my life that were part of a larger experience, a life. My life, until I turned forty.
Growing up is a straightforward, linear process if considered chronologically. In 1974 I was born and I survived to see every birthday, one right after another, forty years hence. The soul, however, has a very different trajectory. I was more self assured at 4 than I was at 14. More brave at 23 than I was at 37. I needed my parents at 29 in a way I never did at 19 and at 40 I wonder what I will think about myself and the world at 50.
When I sat down to write this last post I thought it would be a sort of this is what I've "learned" piece. A Top Ten or bulleted HuffPuff article that sums it all up and assures the reader (and myself) that unseemly facial hair and losing friendships are all totally normal. But there are more than enough of those.
I won't pretend like I have anything figured out or that anything has even really changed all that much. There is still far more to experience. Far too much of the world I have yet to taste and parts of myself to discover within them. I have fears still not conquered and a mind that is far from still. I am not that young woman spinning in circles in Spain and yet I am every inch of her.
My tendency to wander persists but I see the aging of my parents bodies and the faces of my loved ones transforming with every visit so now I stay closer; fearful that I will miss something that I can never replicate from a distance. Yet a part of me longs to explore, searching for a place, and my place within it, that finally feels like home.
There are hundreds of quotes that would neatly sum up this place I find myself in now, at 40. Ultimately, wisdom without experience always falls short. I must evolve and so must you.
Thank you for reading.
Fluent: Notes from my twenties and thirties
By Natasha Watkinson