An Embarrassment of Riches
When I was younger, my mother used the phrase, “an embarrassment of riches,” from time to time and it always made me feel uncomfortable. First of all, the very fact that my mother was speaking generally led me to some self-conscious embarrassment, totally undeserved on her part but I believe valid in the developmental stages of adolescent girls. Then, the phrase itself did not sit comfortably on my ear. Why be embarrassed about being rich? But we weren’t rich so to talk about it was embarrassing. See the conundrum?
Whatever my earlier association with the idiom, it is the only phrase that I have been able to conjure in the past 10 days where I have been truly overwhelmed and yes – a bit embarrassed - by the wealth of friendship and feting that has surrounded my entrance into this decade we call the “50s.” My husband literally kidnapped me and swept me off my feet for a romantic getaway weekend. One of my step-children took over the love and care of her younger siblings so I could revel and relax. My friends have hosted me for intimate individual lunch dates and heartfelt surprising group celebrations. My book club decorated a throne in my honour with balloons and a boa and passed on the glitter tiara initiated by a fellow member who ushered our group into this new unknown age category. My ski buddies drank bubbles and danced on a makeshift ledge to remind us that we are still young at heart. My family drove from near and far in snowy and icy road conditions for a cocktail and a piece of outstanding birthday cake. And this is just the beginning. I have a year of treats planned out as my friends turn “50” as well. My husband has begun to refer to the year as birthdaypaloozza.
And why not? I approach this birthday with a hint of anxiety that I have so much I want to do, learn, give, experience and an unfamiliar awareness that time may not be infinite. But overall, I feel a respect for the privilege of turning 50 that not everyone has been allowed to enjoy. I have dear friends who God apparently needed much earlier and much more than we did; their youth remains intact, but at an expense I am not prepared to pay.
Almost two weeks ago, I was sitting at home on a Tuesday night, pouting. That can happen when you are still in your forties. I really wanted to go to the Bruce Springsteen concert and had not been able to get tickets. My husband was working and I had been unable to cajole a friend, any friend, into buying last minute tickets from those wily entrepreneurs outside the concert venue. Then, I literally said to myself, I am going to be 50 this week, if I want to go see Bruce Springsteen sing The River - an anthem album of my youth - in its entirety, then that’s what I should do. I got a babysitter, got on the subway, bought a single ticket, at cost, from a man outside and got into my seat at the same time Bruce invited me to “meet (him) in the city tonight.”
Fierce, fabulous, fifty. If this is what an embarrassment of riches looks like, then I hope to blush my way through the entire decade.