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.
What about you?