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18 June 2006

Turning 41

Aging publicly. Image source: Isra Ramirez

How not to hide from birthdays.
Image source: Isra Ramirez's e-mail to the world of humanity

THE FIRST MESSAGES on my mobile phone last Friday came from my ten siblings around the world. This is how the family remains connected, wherever we are. We commemorate the events of our lives with timely messages across the seas in phone calls, text messages, or e-mails to one another.

June 16 counts amongst those several “most special” days for us. Forty one years ago, as our eldest sister Kathleen was celebrating her eighth birthday, Mama gave birth to me. I never asked Kathleen how it felt for an eight-year-old—and the eldest child at that—to receive a new-born brother on her birthday. The dual celebration must have been thrilling for the family that day. It has always been since then for Kathleen and me, together and apart. To begin with, with a family as connected as ours, how can we miss it?

For the first time last Friday, I marked my birthday without the physical familiarity of family and old friends. There was none of the frills and musical surprises that Filipinos are so adept at. My passage into the middle ages came without fanfare, and it was good.

My passage into the middle ages came without fanfare, and it was goodHmm, these middle ages. I am now officially part of it. The toughest part is behaving like one. I stopped counting my age after hitting 35 (and I stuck to thinking I was 35), so I am not sure how a 41-year-old must act. Perhaps I can take my cue from some unusual things that have been happening lately:

  • While attempting to climb the staircase to the ninth floor under two minutes, the landing on the third floor always becomes breathtaking, so I stop to admire the beauty of the landing. In the process, I take a breath (forty deep breaths, in fact). Then, I decide the landing is so beautiful that I take the elevator . . . to the ninth floor.
  • My bed pillow is filled with happy, fashionable creatures that paint hair strands a silver-gray overnight.
  • The weather changes, from glaring sunny skies to a delightful fog, every time I remove my reading glasses. Who needs this pesky apparatus perched on the nose anyway?
  • I have acquired an esteemed status in society, as men and women (who look like they went to school with my nephews and nieces) call me ”Sir“ in obvious (and sinister) manner. They even bow to me, here in India.

If this is what being 41 is all about, then there is loads of fun to it. Expect me to stop counting age . . . and getting stuck to being 41 for the next ten years!

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