I woke up in my bed in Mladosot 1A a neighborhood in Sofia, Bulgaria this morning and I found myself thinking about how lucky I am. I know that I’ve said this before but really, I am so lucky.
This is the fifth time I’ve had a birthday in Bulgaria. I am 32 and living abroad. I’m teaching high school English, traveling and (more or less these days) writing about it. I’m living an adventure but after five years abroad, it’s become the normal and sometimes I forget what an incredible thing it is to move abroad, to learn (or try to) the language, and to make a foreign city home.
I am not one to worry about my age but it does seem like time flies by more quickly these days.
For example, I surprised a student of mine recently. We were talking informally about rereading books. I was saying that I don’t love rereading books because I already know what happens but that I think it’s important to do because it helps you better understand a book and because it reminds you of who you were when you read the book the first time and what you cared about then. She told me that she like rereading the books because it brings her closer to the characters. (What a beautiful thing to say.) Then I told her that I was thinking about taking up a serious rereading project this fall.
I told her that I had all of the novels that I read college as part of my English major and that this fallI was thinking about chronicling my experience rereading them, paying a careful attention to my notes and marginalia. She was encouraging and then I told her it would be especially interesting because I graduated from college in 2003 and now that it’s 2013 it hss been 10+ years since I’d read many of the books.
This student looked at me and said: What?! No. You’re 30? Me: And then some.
It was so cute. She just kept saying, I can’t believe you’re not in your twenties and I kept assuring her that I was in my thirties. In a culture that values youth, there’s something nice about being mistaken for being younger than you are.
But truth be told, I’m happy being 32. I can’t think of any year I’d be willing to give up from my life to be younger.
While it is bittersweet that this is my last birthday in Bulgaria (at least for a while I assume), I couldn’t be happier to be celebrating 32 here in Sofia.