Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Hope This Is Middle Age ...

They're happening.

Things I was so sure wouldn't happen to me.

Things that telegraph, with clichéd assuredness, "Kid, you're gettin' old."

"Older!", my mother is interjecting right now, reading this. "You're getting older, not old."

Well, yes, OK, older. Not old.


There was the day I received a senior-citizen's discount, which I laughed off when I saw the receipt and told myself that its presence was more about the clerk wanting me to save a few cents than it was any kind of commentary on my need to better moisturize.

And there was the day I had to move something away from me slightly in order to pull focus. Oh dear.

And there was the day I wondered where I had put my sunglasses before remembering that they were on top of my head. Where they reside for most of the summer.

And there was the day that I won tickets to a 10:30 p.m. show and realized that my days of attending anything at 10:30 p.m. – other than an engagement with my couch or my bed – are over. So over. So, so over.

And then there was this morning, driving, worrying that something was wrong with my vision. Why did it seem splotchy, fuzzy, grey? Cataracts? Already?! Thankfully, no, I realized. The aforementioned sunglasses are just afflicted with a smudgy lens.

And there are other indicators. They are, shall we say, bodily. We don't need to discuss them here.

Gone are the days of leaving my house at 10:30 to meet up with friends to catch a band's set at midnight.

Gone are the days – thankfully – of working until 4 a.m. and then going out until 6.

Gone are the days of remembering, well, anything unless I write it down. I have a lot of surfaces on my home on which to jot notes. Thankfully, I long ago grew out of writing things on my hand. So at least I have that going for me.

But all that said, I'm very fond of this age. Life does indeed begin at 40. It's a cliché because it's true.

I hope this is – give or take – my life's halfway point. I hope I'm fortunate enough to live that long, to make it into my 80s, sassy and well.

Last night I was thinking about the friends I've lost in recent years, one in his 30s, one in his 40s, one in his 50s, sudden, all of their deaths. We never know. I also lost a friend in his 80s, and while his death was sudden, too, in that I didn't have time to get to see him before he died, he had been ill, so while his death was sudden, it wasn't unexpected entirely.

So, as with everything, there are trade-offs. And I will gladly take this newfound sense of self in exchange for the occasional grunt of stiffness when I get up off the couch just as I will gladly do what it takes to focus on what's in front of me in exchange for seeing life more clearly.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, they say, but the first few decades surely do provide their share of opportunities for awkward blocking and botched lines. This phase feels more like opening night than the second act.

And since I've already received my first senior-citizen discount, I'd like to think that I won't be bothered the first time I hear from AARP.

But that remains to be seen.


Anonymous Dave said...

I started hearing from AARP ten years ago and am now a member!

I think they should simply change their name. It's the "Retired" part that pisses us off - it still pisses me off even though technically I am now retired. From what was my day job for 35 years at least. But not retired from life, creativity and productivity.

I think it should be AAOC - American Association of Older Citizens.

Older suggests wiser. Retired suggests done.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I like AAOC much better. Most retirees I know are just as busy as they were when they worked. They just fill their time in different ways.

2:08 PM  

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