My birthday is around the corner. I am approaching 39 which means the big 4-0 is just around the corner, too. This also means, that I am no spring chicken but I am not an old lady either. I can party like a twenty-year-old but it then takes me a couple of days to recover. Sometimes I am a tired mother taking my son to the park, and other times I am a petulant teenager giving the finger to Frank the FedEx guy who didn’t bring me that package I ordered ten weeks ago. I idle right in the middle without knowing when middle age actually starts. According to the dictionary, middle-age is “the period of life between young adulthood and old age, now usually regarded as between about forty-five and sixty.” SIXTY? Nice try, Oxford.
I personally think middle age begins once you start looking forward to eating dinner before 6.30 p.m., or when you call the cops when your next-door neighbor has a party. I know my body feels older even though I feel I am in shape and practice Yoga on a daily basis. Sometimes certain parts hurt that usually didn’t. However, I would never let this social pressure of “staying young forever” get to me.
I can either exhaust myself thrashing against it or turn around and let the pressure of it massage out my kinks. Fighting aging is like the War on Drugs. It’s expensive, does more harm than good, and has proven to never end.
Hopefully, I have another fifty years of healthy living ahead of me before I pass from this earth either in my sleep (preferred) or during a daring rescue caught on tape the paramedics recorded. Ideally, my penultimate day would be spent attending a giant beach party thrown in my honor. Everyone would gather around me at sunset, and the golden light would make everything look awesome as I told hilarious stories and gave away my book collection to my friends. I and all my still-alive friends (which, let’s face it, will mostly be women) would sing and dance late into the night. My son would be strong, grown, handsome, and happy. I would be frail but adorable. Once the party ended, everyone would fall asleep except for me, my son, and my partner. We would spend the rest of the night watching the stars under a nice blanket my granddaughter made.
As the sun began to rise, my partner would wake and put the coffee on. My son would still be asleep. My partner’s last words would be something banal and beautiful. “Are you warm enough, my love? I want to tell you a story.” he would ask and say while handing me another blanket. “Just right, okay, tell me a story,” I would answer while feeling content.
My funeral would be incredibly intimate. I would instruct people to throw firecrackers and play Pink Floyd songs on a loop.
Did I freak you out? It wasn’t until I turned thirty-two and my son was born that I started to feel like my adult life was beginning. This was around the time when I knew how to jump-start my own car battery. I had spent so much of my twenties in a state of delayed adolescence and so much of my teenage years wishing that time would move faster. At thirty, I felt like I had about six or seven years of feeling like a real adult before my brain, and society tried starting to make me worry about being old. There is the built-in baby stuff, plus the added fascination with the new. But here is the thing. Getting older is awesome, and not because I don’t care as much about what people think. It’s awesome because I develop a secret superpower. My son would love to read all about it.
The superpower: Getting older makes me somewhat different or being able to adapt to things more easily. This can be exciting. Now that I am better at observing a situation, I can use my sharpened skills to scan a room and navigate it before anyone even notices that I am there. This can lead to me finding a comfortable couch at a party, or to the realization that I am at a terrible party and need to leave immediately. I can witness young people embarrassing themselves and get a thrill that it is not me. I can watch and listen to them throw around their “alwayses” and “nevers” and “I am the kind of person who would never….” and delight in the fact that I am past that point in my life. Feeling different means I can float.
Getting older also helps me develop an x-ray vision. I am now able to see through people more. I get better at understanding what people mean and how it can be different from what they say. Finally, the phrase “actions speak louder than words” starts to make sense. I can read people’s energies better, and this means I get stuck less talking to idiots. Gone are the days when I take things personally and internalize everyone’s behavior. I get better at knowing what I want and need.
Lastly, because I am a superhero, I am really good at putting together a good team. I can look around the room and notice the other superhero because they are the ones noticing me. Some friends I meet are highly emulsified and full of awesomeness. Now that I have a sense of who I am, I know better what kind of friend(s) or partner(s) I want and need. I am interested in people who swim in the deep end. I want to have conversations about real things with people who have experienced real things. I am tired of talking about movies and gossiping about friends. Life is crunchy and complicated and I am more about all the deliciousness instead.
Hey…. Can you walk and breathe? Yes!? Then stop complaining.