Fifty years of me

This coming Thursday is my 50th birthday. There, I've said it. Somehow that makes it seem more real. Because I cannot quite believe that I am going to be half a century old. Of course, age is just a number, and all that. But still, I can't help feeling a little bit...well...old. I still remember my 25th birthday quite clearly. I was waiting for my friends outside a club called Coconut Grove, looking forward to an evening of fun, when I suddenly wondered what it would be like to be fifty years old.  But I quickly brushed the thought away. There were another 25 years left  until that day came around and it felt like a long, long way away. And as my friends turned up, with their bright, hopeful faces and without a wrinkle or a grey hair between the lot of us, it sure felt great to be young. We felt on top of the world and relegated any thoughts of middle-age to the backs of our minds. But here we are.

Canton (MO) 2011. This is probably one of my favourite photos ever.

So much has happened in the intervening years. At twenty-five our lives and careers were in front of us and everything seemed to be just ripe for the taking. Until, like Icarus, we flew too close to the sun and had to settle for lower ground. I suppose it's the story of all our lives. The bright mornings of youth are followed by the more mellow light of late afternoon and early evening. And so it goes. For everyone that lives.

But I don't want to get too melodramatic and carried away with my silly thoughts on youth and middle-age. Instead I thought it would be fun to share some highlights of each decade of my life and I hope it will be a way for you, my dear readers, to get to know me better. So here goes.


The seventies

The seventies seem so long ago (haha, fifty years to be exact) that the world was a completely different place. I have many happy memories of my childhood. It was still an era where kids played out on the streets (hopscotch and hide and seek and other good old-fashioned games like that) and my parents took me to the beach once or twice a week during the summer months. Malta was still quaint, with large tracts of open fields and each town and village was separated from the next by swathes of countryside. Oh how I miss those days! 
                         
Flower girl time. I'm the one on the left in the second photo.

On a personal level, I remember going to nursery school and starting primary school. I was flower girl twice for the wedding of two of my aunts. I played a lot with my cousin Ian. We rode our bikes and caught frogs in jam jars. When I was 5 my great-grandma Maria died. It was the first death in the family that I remember. She was born in the late 1800s and wore her dresses down to her ankles, and her hair long and tied into a bun at the nape of her neck, until the day she died. 
In 1979 I went abroad for the very first time. My parents and I spent 4 weeks in England and we travelled all over, but London and the hydrangeas at Blenheim Palace are still amongst my most vivid memories.

The eighties

This decade was one of political turmoil in Malta - but we won't go there. It was also a time of many changes for  me. I finished primary school, started and finished secondary school, started and finished sixth form (high school for US readers) and, at the very end of the decade, started  University. I made some of my 'friends for life' during the eighties and visited by beloved Rome for the first time, followed by another trip a few years later. Another memorable trip was to England at Christmas when I got to experience snow for the first time. The eighties gave us Live Aid, bleached jeans and big hair. It also made AIDS a household name.

Very 80s.  Big hair and everything.

In the mid-eighties I visited Germany when it was still split into east and west. The Iron Curtain and the Cold War were very much a thing back then, so the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of communism in Europe was welcomed by all. It was a heady, euphoric time and many of us took Queen's Don't Stop Me Now as our personal anthem - even though it was released a decade previously.

The nineties

I think that the nineties was the best decade ever because of so many things: I graduated, started working, spent countless nights dancing away with my friends; we hiked, we picnicked, we travelled, spent Sunday afternoons playing board games or drinking coffee and eating cake. We were in the thick of things, knew every 'in' place, spent weekends in Gozo (Malta's tinier, sister island), laughed, cried, fell in love, broke up, picked each other up whenever we fell and forged bonds that, in some cases, are as strong as ever.

Both photos in my parents' garden

The noughties

This was the decade that changed everything. First there was 9/11 - that tragic event that, I think, the world has still not completely recovered from. Then, though we would always be friends, we started to go our separate ways as we 'grew up' and settled down. I met my husband in 2000, while he was here on holiday visiting the Maltese side of his family. I visited the US for the first time in 2002. We got married in 2003 and I moved to the US. It was supposed to be a move for life but things didn't quite work out as we had planned and we moved back to Malta in 2004.
Venice 2007. With shorter hair. I thought it would be easier to take care of after the Mischief Maker was born.

In 2006 I became a mother and that was the most defining moment of my life. Everything changed after that. It was never about me anymore and always about my brown-eyed boy.
My husband and I still managed to go on some memorable trips though, mostly short getaways to Paris, Vienna and Venice.
Paris 2009. It was very windy at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

The in-betweenies and the teenies 

I didn't come up with those names up there. I had to look them up.
I guess I can best describe the last decade as 'staid' and mostly routine. When you have a child, your life revolves around his or her needs and my happiest memories are those I spent with the boy I used to call my Mischief Maker. Our albums are filled with photos of his special moments: Christmas concerts, summer soirees, trips abroad: Cornwall, Yellowstone, Florida, Normandy, Rome, Scotland - to mention just a few. 
The Great Salt Lake (UT) 2013. It stank.

In the meantime, our lives have been taken over by social media and the world has became very polarised - at least, that is how I view it. The high hopes of the 90s now seem like empty promises that fizzled out before any of them came to fruition. The end of the euphoria had been long in coming but COVID-19 dealt it it's death blow. So, where do we go from here?
Loch Ness, 2018. Rather chilly even though it was August.

Well, I don't have an answer to that except to take one day at a time, to be kind to each other, to remember that humans have walked on the Moon but they are still not in control of everything and that our lives, be they long or short, are just a blip in the grand scheme of things. I don't have too many plans to share. A pandemic is still raging and it's just not the right time to think so far ahead. But I've decided that I will take myself a little less seriously and, as I promised myself last year, to live in the moment
On a farm outside Quincy (IL), 2017

That  just about sums it up. I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. I always find that remembering the good times just cheers me up and that was my sole intention when I wrote this. Until next time, when I will officially be half a century old :)
La Contessa said...

OH MY GOSH THIS IS MY FAVORITE POST OF YOURS EVER!!!
I LOVE HOW YOU BROKE DOWN THE DECADES............WITH PHOTOS!!!!
I do not recall 25 but I do recall the 18th BIRTHDAY in Monte Carlo!I was on a graduation trip with other young people!A cute boy named JON took me to the CASINO!!WE GOT IN!!!I always looked older than I was.......

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!50 is GRAND as the decade............ENJOY IT!!
NOW can I please ASK for a PHOTO OF YOU AND THE AMERICAN HUSBAND?!!!
PLEASE!
SO it was four years ago I spoke with you on the phone come summer time?!!FEELS LIKE A DECADE AGO!!!

I WISH YOU A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND NIGHT!!
XXX

Pipistrello said...

Well, it's now Thursday here so I can wish you a Happy Birthday!! I'm sure your beloveds will have a special day/week planned for you, so revel well!

50 is a good year, I say so wisely from my almost-55 haha, so I hope you enjoy yours as much as I did mine.

kim at northerncalstyle. said...

Loree Happy Birthday! I just so enjoyed this blog post. I am five years older than you, but loved hearing again about all those decades we lived through. You are adorable and haven't aged! I swear I thought you were in your 30's.

I agree thinking about the past makes me really miss those simpler times, less social media and more quality of life. Maybe we will get back to more of that. This pandemic is changing the world and who knows what is coming next? I hope you keep up your lovely blog and writing and I wish you a beautiful year. Hugs, Kim

Loree said...

@ Elizabeth, oh you and your adventures. I can imagine you in Monte Carlo. I am sure you were dressed for the occasion. Thank you for your good wishes.

@Pipistrello, thank you. I will do my best to make the most of these years.

@ Kim, thank you. That's a huge compliment and it brightened up my day. You don't look your age either.

Debbie Nolan said...

Loree beautiful years of you. Happy belated birthday friend. Fifty is a milestone to celebrate. Loved seeing the younger you as well as the older. You certainly have traveled and seen lots of the world in those short 50 short years. I hope in the next fifty you get to see even more of the world. P.S. you certainly Don't look fifty :)! Hugs

Nadya Anne said...

I was born a day and 4 years before you. Us January babies will always find a way to make it better. You have already started with your writing! Thank you for sharing your memories and transporting me to my younger years. Life is fast and we do need to put the brakes on sometimes to remember, so as not to forget who we are and where we came from. It is only in this way do we get to appreciate our victories and be grateful for what we have. Take care and stay safe X

Gattina said...

Happy Birthday to you ! Half a century that's something ! I remember my 50th birthday we were in the USA in the Sequoia park and I had as meal an hamburger under this enormous tree where cars could go through ! My men even forgot to give me a gift ! Now they pretend that it is not true.
In all those years we know each other at least virtually I think it must be from nearly the beginning on, I started blogging in 2007 I have never known so much about you then in this post ! I remember that you mentioned your little boy sometimes, now a big boy ! 50 is nothing, I will be 78 and go towards 80, but as long as I am fit and my brain works I don't bother.
I think from year to year you became more pretty !!
Send you a virtual kiss that's all what is allowed these days !!

Loree said...

Thank you all for your kind wishes.

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Sincerely, Loree. Theme by STS.