Seven Thoughts for Seven Decades
As I’m turning seventy, my wife, who always gives me inspired advice, suggested I should blog about seven important events or moments that had shaped my life, one for each decade.
It’s Sunday morning. I always publish my blog on Mondays and I have no other subject matter to write about. The idea of placing my life under the microscope scares me a little, yet I’ll be my own judge. It’s like remembering a complicated movie, with good and bad twists, when you remember only certain scenes, sporadically, for no apparent reason. I like the idea — life as a flashback. Select what was important, what was good.
To begin with I realize that my decades are not stacked evenly.
The first decade, is completely thought free. I remember a small apartment, my grandmother, the morning they rushed me to the hospital with appendicitis, the first day of school. I read The Three Musketeers before I was ten.
My second decade is the fullest of all. I entered it as a child and it ended when I became an adult. I gradually understood the world, or at least I thought I did, and it was perfect. I liked math, literature, music and arts. I fell in love: once, twice, three times. I found my bride. I graduated from high school, started college, wrote and published my first short story, learned to smoke and to drink. I swam competitively, played tennis, hiked and skied. I was happy. I formed friendships that lasted my entire life.
The third decade is rich as well: graduation from college, marriage and my first job. Growing a beard. Then moving around the world — from Romania to Israel to Greece to the United States; from New York City to Stamford, Connecticut and Columbia, Maryland. My daughter. My son. My second college degree.
The fourth decade I have to divide in two halves. In the first half I wanted to ensure I didn’t make a mistake: I tried to confirm that the US was where I wanted to be. For two years we lived in Denmark, worked and traveled. I visited all of Western Europe, except Belgium and Portugal. I asked questions, took notes. It was informing and beautiful and I concluded that if one has to leave one’s country of birth the United States is the best place to settle in. In the second part of the decade two important things happened. My parents joined us in the US, and the communist regime in Romania fell. Oh, yes, and we bought our house — life in the suburbs, predictable, comfortable.
The other decades are more of a blur. Important things happened, of course, but I have to make an effort to identify them. Dust them off. My first novel, The Runners, came out in Bucharest. My children moved out to college and then on with their lives. My parents, first my mother and later my father, died. My in-laws died. My grandchildren were born. They are all a delight. We cruised Alaska, Australia, New Zeeland, and some other places in Europe. My best friend died.
This decade, I stopped working in my profession and started my latest novel. It’s based on my life, on my family’s life. I have the time to sort out seven decades and three generations across two continents — and I write every day. It’s my balance, my sanity and and my purpose.
It’s who I am and what I have become — a story, a movie, sometimes in color and sometimes in black and white.
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