Betwixt and Between

I recently had a birthday. Note I didn’t say “celebrated”, so please don’t feel compelled to offer felicitations, congratulations, or other similar happy sentiments. I had it, I’m over it. I’m becoming ‘a woman of a certain age’, and each year I’m less happy about it, and I can admit it freely. It’s a confounding state to find oneself in…chronologically the calendar insists that I am eligble for senior discounts at restaurants, auto service centers, and other businesses, every morning before I get out of bed my joints tell me I’m older than dirt and I ought to be grateful I’m waking up on this side of it, but my spirit? I feel like I’m about 35 – there is still so much world out there! I want to explore new places I’ve never been in the world, flirt with 35 year-old waiters, and keep feeling like I have all the time in the world. I don’t want to be this age. I don’t like it one bit! I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! (picture me stomping my foot in protest, a la Herman Munster.)

“40 is the new 30”, we heard that one a few years ago, then along came “50 is the new 40”. In some ways it’s true, living in a world that is as connected as we are, with easy transportation and technology we can get places better and faster than generations before us could. There is work on new supersonic transport starting, and seeing watching “Planet Earth” a few years ago in high definition was pretty darned amazing. We can Skype with people halfway around the world from us to stay in immediate contact, instead of waiting weeks for letters.

And yet….

At 55, I have more gray hair than not (trust me when I tell you this, although I’m not ready to let you see it yet), the word “retirement” creeps into more conversations every year, friends have begun moving to southern climes to escape Minnesota winters, and when I recently sorted through things for a garage sale, I found myself becoming rather maudlin. While not a hoarder or pack rat, I have some things I’ve saved over the years that were special for one reason or another. A hand puppet my parents gave me, an old kerosene lantern that matches one my mother has and keeps at her cabin, some treasures from travels as a child, and other mementos. They’re stored in plastic bins and I look at them perhaps once every few years and have a moment or two of nostalgia, then don’t think about them again until the next time. I have no other reason to save them, no children to pass them along to. So what’s the point? Saving them for someone to have to throw away when I die? (Which of course makes me think about “if I died today, what would they find?” and my reaction is a cross between ‘ugh’ and ‘oh dear God’!)

It’s difficult being at an age of having to think about your own mortality when you don’t feel old inside and at least for me, it’s like having two personalities. One on each shoulder as it were, like the angel and the devil. “Go out, live life! Have some fun! Go sky dive, zip line!” says one. The other? “Stay home, organize, dust, save your money, put more into that Roth”. I also REALLY hate it when I run across a story about someone that decided to give it all up to live the dream. Why? Because I wish I had that kind of courage, and willingness to give up my creature comforts. So many days I could do it but then there are just so many more of the days that I’m not quit there. I’m not talking about Starbucks, or Macy’s. I couldn’t care less about that. But I have a lovely home and we’re having fun (most of the time) fixing it up and putting our signature on it, filled with tchotchkes and treasures we’ve collected. Well, ok, mostly what hubby has collected, that’s his deal. I’d put myself more in the bucket of ‘get a couple of things here and there that coordinate, but not a whole series’. While living the easy life on an island someplace sounds lovely, paring back to only  critical clothing, a few electronics, 3 houseplants and the 2 cats just isn’t me quite yet. I have to at least wait until my niece and nephew have homes of their own so I can pass along some of those “treasured heirlooms” to them, lucky ducks.

And I don’t want to think about any of that anyway…I’m only 35 for heaven’s sake. I have light-years of time ahead of me, don’t I? I can’t possibly be old enough to have a niece that just got married, it feels like I just held her in my arms as an infant for the first time last week. And only a moment has passed since I held my nephew for his baptism…that same nephew who is now getting ready to be a senior in college and just passed his second actuarial exam (smartie!) Yet I look at them, and am amazed at how many years have flown by. How did this happen? Dear God, how did I become one of those people who needs someone to do their pedicures because they can’t reach their own toes, or their arthritis is so bad they can’t do it themselves? I guess I should be grateful we don’t need to buy Efferdent and Polygrip, but still…

On a happier note, I AM celebrating something else.

th

cakecentral.com

 

It was my one year blog birthday on August 14. Here I am with 43 posts, and views in 26 countries later and still blabbing on. If I were going to have a cake, I imagine it would look like this one. Thank you to everyone for the encouragement, and stay tuned, there’s more to come. Remember, my brain says I’m only 35.

One final note, for all my blog buddies from Diane Henders’ blog “Probably Inappropriate” , as promised

IMG_0651

 

Now where did I put that article on parasailing in the Sea of Cortez?

 

 

 

 

I Thought You Looked Familiar

Going through a drive through the other day, I was about to get my order when I noticed the tattoo on the forearm of the young person. In a lovely, scrawling script I saw “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and as she recited my order back to confirm, she was very polite and respectful. Then she said “Have a nice day ma’am” and I started ranting in my head, “I don’t care if I’ll never see 50 again, I’m not old enough to be ma’am. I don’t WANT to be a ma’am, did you ASK me if I wanted to be one? No! I feel like I’m still in my 30’s” and on and on it went in futility. I soon started thinking of the scene from the movie “Parenthood” where Dianne Wiest’s character Helen is ranting about being a grandmother (from IMDB):

Helen: [laughs incredulously] No, no, no, no. I’m too young to be a grandmother. Grandmothers are old. They bake, and they sew, and they tell you stories about the Depression.

[shouts]

Helen: I was at Woodstock, for ******’s sake! I peed in a field! I hung on to The Who’s helicopter as it flew away!

[gestures wildly]

George Bowman: I was at Woodstock.

Helen: [shouts] Oh yeah? I thought you looked familiar!

I’ll say it again, I’m too young to be a ma’am. You can’t prove I have gray hair, I haven’t had a joint replaced yet, I don’t have cataracts, gout or whatever else it is old people have. So what if I can now grow African violets?  My mother always told me the reason I was killing them when I was younger (read “in my 20’s and 30’s”) was because you had to be a lady of a certain age to grow them. She didn’t say specifically what that age was, but it was implied “old”. I had always pictured little hunched over, hey haired grannies when she said that (no offense to the grannies I know that aren’t grey haired OR hunched over, please!) I’m not old, I’m not even middle aged for that matter because I decided a long time ago that middle aged will always be anyone who is ten years older than me. I don’t need Efferdent, Depends or Doan’s, there’s no prune juice in my house, no assistive walking devices, no hearing aid batteries because there are no hearing aids. I run, can ride a bicycle, hiked a mountain last fall and dance just because it’s fun.

Ma’am. That was almost insulting. I think I’m going to Buca where a sweet young waiter carded me recently. Oh damn, he also carded my 75-year old mother. I’d sign up for dance lessons, but thanks to Dancing with the Stars, people like Cloris Leachman and Florence Henderson, that’s not even impressive anymore. Okay, so there are days when my knees are a little stiff, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to be grateful for waking  up on this side of the dirt, does it? I’m young, dang it! And if I say it loud enough and pound the table hard enough, maybe, just maybe, my fairy godmother will show up and make it so.

Oh look, was that a pig flying by….