Yesterday I did a really stupid thing (I do stupid things on a fairly frequent basis) – I looked at my blog stats. It was interesting to me that I have more followers than I ever thought I’d have, more ‘likes’, more comments, etc…And yet, the number of people who check out the blog on a daily basis has gone down since the crazy days of May and early June. It bothered me – albeit briefly. I realized that the select group of people who really do visit, are those who have become incredibly important to me. People who I look forward to reading and hearing from. I anxiously await their perspectives, smile when I see their name in my inbox and welcome them with invisible hugs which are so strong, I wouldn’t be surprised if on occasion, you felt it – wherever you are. So damn the numbers – I have some inspiring, smart, funny, humble, insecure, confident, fretful, contented, beautiful friends (even those who would argue the last point with me – you should know by now, not to do that).
And so it was ironic and timely, that my buddy Rhonda – the glorious writer of HelpMeRhonda.com accorded me with this Reader Appreciation award. Rhonda’s writing is a sensory treat – for it is more than the written word that is eloquently placed. She informs her work with passion and zeal, her pictures burst with color, her laughter audible even though we are states and states removed from each other. When you laugh with Rhonda, you laugh with your belly, and should she be having a day with tears, I find them streaming down my cheeks as well. She knows me well – and prefaced this award with a quick message which acknowledged that she wasn’t going to call on me for one of these awards, but…
So I want to thank my friend Rhonda – for the generous praise which I don’t deserve, but will work to earn – but more importantly for her exquisite timing. I’ve become part of a small, close, transparent community – though all that I can see of it is with my heart.
I’ve got a question for you – well really, it’s a quote from Satchel Paige:
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
My own personal answer is neither firm nor absolute. Initially, I thought the age I am now. I am freer, wiser, less frantic, more accepting. I don’t drive myself crazy believing that a work legacy is anything other than illusory and fleeting. I have time for friends – old friends that I thought I would never see again and new friends that I never thought I would find at this stage in my life. I’m smarter – or at least I think I am. I hold onto things for far less time, and leave the perseverating to people who enjoy it more than I do. The ghosts from my past don’t jump as high on the bed anymore. They’ve gotten smaller, or I’ve gotten braver. I am still ridiculously immature, do silly better than I do serious and have no intention of growing up. I figure this intractability is ultimately a good thing – it worked for Peter Pan.
I didn’t like being a little kid, though I would give an awful lot to be horseback riding with my dad again. I did a lot in my twenties – the best parts of it were giving birth to my sons – the rest of the decade was pretty much a disaster. I definitely looked a lot better then. I was fallow for most of my thirties, hiding behind my little boys while I nursed some of my open wounds. But my sister got sick then and the mere thought of those days fills me with dread and fear (and a little nausea). I can’t go back there, ’cause I need her here.
By the time Andy and I got together, I was closer to my forties. Andy made me less afraid of grown-up love. I inherited a sister and brother-in-law I love deeply and wonderful parents-in-law. I loved my forties – though my children became teenagers, needing to separate and return, a dance with no rhythm and what felt like no end. I got sick in my forties. Still looked pretty damn good – or so I’ve been told. My dad’s decline was steeper, my mom’s anxiety heightened. Yes, I was rocking the professional arena – and somehow that has become a footnote.
So I’m here – and I suppose this is where I would want to be – with a few caveats. I wouldn’t mind losing the chronic pain for a few days, and sometimes wonder what will be in the future if my body is acting like such a renegade now. There used to be an ad on tv with the tag line – “when I grow up I want to be an old woman”. It was a good ad – lots of old women dancing around, doing lots of crazy and silly stuff – I imagine myself that way in years to come (hell, I do some of that now). I’m determined to sparkle. Life deserves some sequins and a feather boa. I don’t like the implications – that more is behind me than ahead. Other than that, I’ll take it, and don’t intend to go quietly into any good night. I’m too lousy a sleeper.