In spite of it all, time does indeed march on, and…most of my high school classmates will reach that 70th milestone this year! My own celebration was just a few months ago with a fabulous birthday bash in one of my favorite places, San Francisco. I lived there as a child and looked forward to returning again and to see all that had changed while re-visiting familiar places which I fondly remembered in the City by the Bay.
For some odd reason, turning that corner into the 70’s wasn’t terribly devastating and that is probably because after seeing so many friends at our 50th reunion in 2014, I realized how young we all still are! Compared to our parents and other family members at this point in life, we are nothing like most memories of what this “age” could, or should, be like.
That…is a very good thing!
Goals, dreams…yes, for me at least, there is still so much I’d like to accomplish and I think that probably goes for most of us. Our world is constantly in motion, mixed with good and, at times, what seems like a daily deluge of bad. I have so much yet to write, to paint; friends I want to keep in touch with while missing those who are no longer here. One blessing, something I thought would never happen, was the best reunion of all with my birth son who contacted me last year and that part of me which was missing…has been found. That wonderful story is shared here on my website and I invite you to read about one of those miracles that sometimes do happen! My four children and six, absolutely beautiful, genius, grandchildren (yes, I’m proud) are the blessings this life has given to me!
So, at the crack of dawn, on a September morning, complete with my over-sized (and very over-stuffed) luggage, tablet and other electronic gadgets, I departed from JFK; meanwhile, our oldest daughter, Jennifer, left Florida around the same time and we eagerly headed towards a West Coast sunrise. Our flights landed, about an hour apart, and we quickly found each other after strolling through the airport and texting like madwomen. The birthday whirlwind began with much hugging and laughing during the limousine ride that brought us to our Union Square hotel. Then…it was party on!
By the way, weather in San Francisco was un-seasonably warm, no, make that HOT, for September! We enjoyed several sultry days in the 90’s and I missed the absence of fog rolling-in at night. Having packed warmer clothes in anticipation of cooler temperatures, the heat called for some impromptu wardrobe shopping which added to all the fun.
First, a nighttime tour of Alcatraz which was incredible. When I lived in San Francisco as a teen-ager, Alcatraz was an active prison facility, a formidable sight sitting in the bay, a rock where isolation lived and many attempted to escape. I walked by myself through the prison and on the grounds, at times, feeling shiver-like sensations similar to what I experienced while doing photography in a Gettysburg battlefield years ago. Unsettled spirits that lingered still in the darkness, searching and wandering.
Then, Napa! Breathtaking views, extraordinary wine tastings and, of course, I made sure to have some favorite selections shipped back to New York. We visited V. Sattui, Andretti, Franciscan, Robert Mondavi, strolled through the vineyards and loved picking bunches of tiny sweet grapes from their vines.
It was a spectacular trip, in every way. From shopping to riding a Cable Car, holding on for dear life all the way through the city and meeting some terrific people along the way, I honestly don’t think my 70th could have been more memorable.
Regrets? Definitely. There are always a few. Aside from having to leave San Francisco, I was disappointed in not having time to visit the St. Francis Yacht Club where I had an open invitation to view photographs and a trophy belonging to my paternal grandfather who was once an avid sailboat racer, and…that my workaholic husband John and our other daughter Jill were both unable to make the trip.
Maybe next time…and maybe…to the Amalfi Coast for my 75th!
To all my classmates and friends who will be blowing-out candles for their special birthday, stop and celebrate wonderful YOU! Enjoy all you have become and still hope to be!
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman