Monday, February 18, 2008

I Know It Must Be True Because....

I heard it on the radio. Tuesday, February 12, 8am (I was in the shower at the time enjoying my trusty shower radio. The announcement came on just after the news and caused me to drop my bar of soap.) Today is the birthday of Judy Blume. She's seventy. What?! Is this a joke? I turned off the shower, wrapped myself in a towel and ran to give George the news. He said, Happy Birthday!

Okay, so it's not the first time my birthday's been announced on the radio. And I've never lied about my age -- I'm proud of it! -- but that number -- that Seven-Oh! I've never paid attention before. Not when I turned fifty. My mother had died the summer before and I wasn't in the mood to celebrate. Not when I turned sixty. I was on a book tour for Summer Sisters the summer before and was busy moving into a new house in Key West that February. But this one feels like a milestone. On the one hand I feel incredibly lucky -- I'm healthy, active, my mind and memory work well (in my opinion, anyway) I have more creative energy than I did a couple of years ago, and George thinks I'm hot (hot-ish?)

On the other hand, there's a lot to think about -- things I'm not sure I want to think about -- like how many good numbers are on the other side of 70. I think about the party I gave my mother to celebrate her 70th. I thought she was old, didn't I? I think about my friends who are seriously ill. About how we have no idea what's coming down the road. But then I realize this isn't productive thinking. And I decide to focus on the bright side. I decide to go with 70 is the new 50! (Okay, so I sound like the anti-Dennis Hopper in that commercial).

Although I'm a party girl (in the sense that I like giving and going to parties) we've been pretty much partied out in Key West this month. So instead of a party George took me away to a magical, romantic island. This is no hassle travel -- just an hour from Key West by car and boat -- no airport, no security, just throw a bag in the back of the truck and off we went to Little Palm Island.

I loved every minute of our time there -- well, except some of the dramatic weather -- but even that made our time more memorable. On the 12th, the sky was lit by lightning from about 6pm. For those of you who don't know, I'm phobic about thunderstorms. I panic, I need to be in a small, dark space. I'm like a frightened dog who crawls under the bed during a storm. But once I realized there was no thunder -- just lightning -- the panicky feelings eased. Hmmm -- maybe I'm right when I say the phobia began on July 4th when I was very small and my father sat me on the hood of our car so I could see the annual fireworks display. I think it was the unexpected boom after the sky lit up that scared me. Maybe now, with some help, I can conquer the fear. That would be something!

We sat on the porch for dinner -- George made sure I faced away from the lightning.

We enjoyed dessert (no singing waiters, just a message written in chocolate sauce, and a yummy molten chocolate cake) on another porch, while we listened to a very good jazz trio.

The next day we had a windstorm with 50+ mile an hour gusts. We didn't care. Each of us wanted nothing more than to sit and read. My friend Cynthia gave me a copy of Sue Miller's new novel The Senator's Wife to take away with me. I found this story of loyalty, betrayal, marriage, and friendship, engrossing and I've been thinking about it and the characters ever since. It's one of those books that sneaks up on you slowly. Don't want to give any more away.

Our last day was glorious. Blue sky, sunshine, absolutely perfect. I took out a kayak and explored the mangroves.

While George had a snooze....

We took the 6pm boat back to Little Torch Key and on the drive back to town caught the kind of sunset Key West is famous for.

Thank you for all your birthday wishes! I hope you have happy birthdays, too. And now, it's back to real life. The fourth book in the Pain&Great One quartet is due the end of April and I haven't started writing yet. (But I have been thinking!)