There are milestones in life that we look forward to. Mostly when we’re younger, of course. When you are five it feels like Christmas or your birthday will never come. You wonder in July if it’s too early to start the list for your Santa letter, and then comes the cruelty of December when gifts start to show up under the tree but you can’t open them yet! Then at fifteen it’s “Mom, mom, mom, MOM! When can I get my driver’s license?” (a word that is interchangeable with freedom at that age.) Then it’s can’t wait for 21 so I can legally drink a beer, which seems only fair, since you’ve been legally able to die for your country since you were 18. Of course, you can get yourself a fully automatic assault rifle and a grenade launcher before you go to kindergarten—”Go ‘Merica! We’re number one!” Why? “Because my toddler can open carry! I don’t got no college fund for him, but I got him this here arsenal! Feel the freedom!!” Of course that a slight exaggeration—key word, slight. (I’m from Georgia. Seen it, lived it, was horrified by it.)
But now, I have a really big milestone coming up. I mean, this is the queen mother of entitlement. In November I will be 55 years of age and I can order off the senior menu. The anticipation is exquisite. Hell, I even heard that Red Lobster will send a bus to pick me up. Bring on the cheese biscuits!
Sweet!! I will get discounts at so many places, and as a second plus, I can be crabby and bitch about the ‘good old days’ and nobody gets to tell me to buck up and get over it. Which is ironic, because I wouldn’t go backwards for all the wrinkle-free skin in California. That’s not so much of a sacrifice, since so much of that ‘younger looking skin’ was created by botulism poison or the surgeon’s knife, and I’m am not okay with that! No because I think it’s unnatural or any crap like that, but because I earned these wrinkles, and dammit, I’m keeping them! Why would I want to erase my smiles or my tears or my most fabulous adventures walking through rainstorms alone or sailing in a rough sea with my brother when we were teens. I’ll keep my moments, and if you think for one minute I care that someone says I look older, you’re right. It makes me happy!!
What a relief growing older has been really. I get to be friends with women without them feeling they have to resent or compete with me, or vice-versa. Men believe that I’m intelligent without that pathetically ignorant look of surprise on their face when I use big words and know what they mean, (and they often don’t.)
At one of my last doctor’s visit, I told my physician, who has known me for many years socially as well as a doctor, that I thought I was having memory loss because sometimes I occasionally couldn’t think of the right word. He laughed, really loud, and then said, “No, I think that’s just you trying to find the perfect word. Big difference.” Bastard wouldn’t even give me an out.
My husband thinks I need a hearing aid, but I’m too smart to tell him he mumbles sometimes. (In my experience, which is vast because, as previously stated, I’m old, it’s easier not to contradict your mate unless it’s life-threatening.) Oh, and please don’t try to tell me some crucial piece of information from your desk in the library while I’m standing at the sink in the kitchen with the water and the dishwasher running simultaneously. I may have lost some hearing range, but I prefer to think of it as hearing selectively. Another benefit to aging. You can pretend the people at the table next to you did not just say something that stupid.
Because my life long impulse has been to correct people, to call them on their bs. I’m still that way when I feel people are being cruel or unfair, I’m not afraid of a fight. If there’s one thing I have learned it’s that some people never do. To me, learning is everything. It’s the point. You can’t ever know everything. But if you keep listening and reading and learning, then knowledge of life and love is the penultimate experience. (That means next to last. Last of course, is death and what comes after, we don’t get to know that until the train leaves the station.)
As always, it comes to choices. I still love the Christmas season, which I define as whatever you choose to celebrate, religion, mythology, philosophy, the seasons, nature, etc. but it’s about the giving now. My favorite part is making Advent calendars for my nieces and nephews. I wrap 24 tiny presents for each of them and number them with the days. They’ve been such a big success that even at 17 and 18, they still enjoy them. Look under (“How to be the favorite Aunt” in my archives for tips.)
I love my birthday because it’s in fall, my favorite season, and because I went into labor with my second child on that day and her birthday is the next day. In truth, I feel guilty about my birthday because people always feel like they should do something for you. I think they should do something for my mom, she’s the one who did all the work! So I send her flowers or call her to wish her happy ‘birth’ day. As a milestone, birthdays don’t count as much to me. But this one…55!
So psyched! I’ll even get 30 percent off on Tuesdays at my favorite thrift store.
I’ll just have to wait for, let’s see, seven Tuesdays. It would be six, but my birthday is on a Wednesday this year.
Come on 55! I feel like a kid again.
Shari, Oct. 8th, 2015