When I was one (1977) we moved out from the East End (of London) to the Home Counties. I imagine I lived a fairly charmed life at that age, though I did suffer a very severe scald and had to wear an elasticated t-shirt for a year.
Soon after my 11th birthday (1987) I started secondary school. I remember being excited and thinking a large secondary school would suit me much better than primary school, where you were stuck with one teacher and the same set of kids all day every day. I didn't start puberty until I was 12; I have some good memories of being 11. Amongst other things I started doing a lot of music.
In the year I turned 21 (1997) I met Zoe, who was to become my partner of 14 years! We went to South Africa for several weeks in the summer. The following summer, while still 21, I somehow graduated, and also got elected as a student union vice-president (salary £9k).
Turning 30 on my return from three months working in Melbourne in 2006 I remember noticing that I'd ticked many of the boxes other people would consider desirable by that age: long-term 'escalator' relationship, career, mortgage...
I don't remember much about the year I turned 31 (2007). Though I remember the first half of my 30s being in many ways better than the second half of my 20s (I certainly felt more comfortable in my skin, for example), the 25-35 decade is a bit of a blur of work, coupledom, a busy London social life and not enough sleep. I'm not sure I really 'grew' very much. Workwise I changed jobs at the beginning of 2007, though any motivation the change brought was short-lived! It was at around this time I committed a good deal of my time and energy to 'my ladies', namely Deirdre and Alison's music. In fact, Deirdre and I had a joint 51/31 birthday party. It might have been that Christmas Zoe and I went to New York; one of many excellent holidays.
Last year (2016), during which I turned 40, I felt utterly solo and free, and at the same time (notwithstanding a couple of disappointments) completely surrounded by love. I remembered what I noticed in 2006 about boxes ticked, and saw with amusement that my contentment at 40 had a lot to do with having got my midlife-crisis over early, pulled the rug out from under myself, and cast off the things I'd 'achieved' by 30. (Except the mortgage; I still have that, as well as the immense privilege of a small profit from renting out my house.) My love affairs with Europe and with my new anarchic, nomadic way of living/ loving are well-documented in my accounts of 40 walks with 40 friends.
For posterity, it's worth noting that 2016 was a horrible year globally, including as it did both Trump and Brexit. It was also a year in which some of my close people started having their midlife-crises.
This year (2017) I shall have spent four months in Europe, three in Canada/the USA, and the rest in Mexico. I flew to Vancouver BC as co-organiser of the world's first conference for people practising honest non-monogamy while intentionally solo. As I turn 41 I can hardly wait to conclude my journey down the west coast of the USA - which I dislike intensely - and to set myself up in southern Mexico until February.
When I told my people of my intention to retire and leave London I said 'My intention is to travel, slowly, to some places that interest me, but really my intentions are less about DOING new things and more about exploring new ways of BEING.' After almost two years alternating being 'on the road' and 'with friends', I'm feeling ready to try something a bit different. I passionately want to speak Spanish fluently (with a Latin American accent), so I've decided to settle in Oaxaca for several months to focus on this. I rarely enjoy things I'm crap at; I guess being crap at a language is the ultimate in vulnerability for me, relying - as I do - so heavily on my words. I'm desperate to get well beyond intermediate Spanish before I ride through central and south America. My intention is to listen to and read Spanish for several hours of every day, and to speak it every day too.
Three other anticipated advantages of this decision are: being online more of the time and thus better able to maintain my 20-odd close relationships (which is really the only aspect of my current lifestyle I'd like to tweak); being able to host some of my people; and having an opportunity to establish a yoga practice to complement my meditation. What a cliché!
I don't have anything particularly profound to say about turning 41. For at least five years I've been aware of living much more in the present, for which I am grateful. I've made a series of really good decisions too, and am getting gradually better at taking readings from my body and heart as well as my head.
While I still feel very youthful, am told I don't look 41, and have no long trousers, I suspect that by 51 I'll have started to look my age. For sure my hair will be entirely white, and my skin will probably be rather the worse for so much sun and wind. I rather think that by then I might have cycled through Turkey and the Caucasus, through Japan and South Korea, and that I might have acquired a small, secluded cottage in northwest Spain. Maybe I'll have got bored of having no money and thought of a way to make some, or maybe I'll still feel that being frugal is a small price to pay for absolute freedom.
Happy 41st birthday to me! I shall be celebrating it in LA of all places.