OPINION

The plot twists but the inner goth remains

Once upon a time, I thought I'd had a pretty good life.

I could probably die any time and that would be a fair thing.

Then I had a child.

Those couple of paragraphs pretty much sum up my life as I turn 50. I'm skipping along, la-di-da-di-da and then whammo, plot twist.

My husband and I had been trying for that particular plot twist for six years - that's an extreme example.

In my 50 years to date I have been a daughter, a sister, a mother, a faceless girl adequate to the purposes of sexual harassment. Yes, me too.

I have been betrayed, loved, despised.

I have struggled, triumphed, fallen down and got back up again.

I have made decisions that would have astounded my teenage self.

I have had an ordinary life.

It's probably also your life.

Fifty once seemed ancient. Now it doesn't.

It's just a number of years in which you amass an incredible mess of experiences.

I've rushed headlong into change and mostly, have not regretted it.

I have just acquired a larger-than-life sized portrait of myself as a full-on goth in my 50th year.

I am unrecognisable, people tell me. Not to me. I was always that goth in my own head.

In reality, I am shocked at what I catch sight of when I can't avoid a mirror.

The shape is wrong, the face. What happened? Where did I go?

I look at other people's photos of me as if they have played a dirty trick or just downright failed to capture the eternally youthful me.

And yet I am proud to be 50. I am aware of how grateful I need to be for those 50 years from the very start - born in a privileged country to a privileged life; a good education; a strong family; painful but constructive experiences; love; a child; endless variations on my chosen career.

In my 50th year, I am so lucky. I am still strong, still learning, still loved.

l am looking forward to the year ahead for myself and the people travelling with me.

There are still countries to discover, skills to learn, mistakes to make and a home to retreat to.

"Congratulations on being half a century old," my nephew told me.

"I don't mind at all," I told him, "it took me 50 years to get here."

And what a journey it has been - my own half-century.

Marie Low is a gently ageing freelance journalist based in Gunnedah.