We picked the single cheesiest place to sit on the Kaerntnerstrasse today, right at the edge of the Hotel Sacher outdoor tables where every camera-toting tourist and opera-bound Wiener/in could watch us eating things mit Schlagobers (Mom, if you're reading this? Vienna is where people who love whipped cream like you do go when they die). We only had an hour before her rehearsal began, so the intake of both dessert and information began in earnest. It was wonderful to catch up with a long-time friend at the top of her game in the central city of our profession. It was even more wonderful to see her happy and settled at this point in her life.
Friends have written me in the last week to give me props for the big transition, and I do appreciate the support. However, although nothing probably equals (emotionally) the thrilling and terrifying bungee jump from adolescence into adulthood, isn't middle age nothing but big transition? Now our own kids are doing the bungee jump - and our parents are doing acrobatics toward territory even more mysterious. Those of us not yet frail but no longer cluelessly vital are finding our bodies and minds shifting, not imperceptibly at all. Usually we don't say much, because of the kids and the parents, but also because of the friends who are free-falling through illness or job loss or job change or divorce or something they could/could not imagine. The big transitions that we get to choose are privileges. Sogni, lampi, giuochi.
I took big unabashed spoonfuls of cream and talked with my friend as we remembered some hard roads and relished this beautiful and easy time. Then I followed her to her rehearsal where she sang in perfect octaves with the mezzo, and the chorus answered in a slightly Viennese-accented whisper, and I walked out into the waning sunlight blessed by every single part of my life.