Okay, everyone. Gather close. Listen carefully.
I was born half a century ago. Five decades. So long ago that I can remember when you had to dial a rotary phone, often WHILE STANDING IN THE KITCHEN, to call someone. And then, for privacy, you could hide in the laundry room and try to talk while other people in the house kept picking up the phone the master bedroom extension saying, “Oh. Sorry. Are you almost done?”
It was a time before the Internet. Before DVRs and way, way before Taylor Swift. When I was a kid, our parents shooed us out of the house in the morning and we wandered through our neighborhoods and undeveloped acres of land surrounding our neighborhoods and played in the creek and often rode our banana-seat bicycles without helmets. Or shoes. We came home when it was dark or when we were really hungry.
I can remember watching the moon landing on a black and white television. I remember television back when there were only five channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and channel “11” which is where all the magic happened (aka “Gilligan’s Island”). Okay, maybe it was channel 13. Maybe I can’t remember, but you’ll have to understand because I am old.
My dad only lived to be 47, so I’ve lived three years longer than he did. But my grandmother lived to be 102, so I’m not even halfway there. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a design flaw, this inability to know exactly how many days we each get.
Some people say you should live each day as if it were your last, but that’s kind of impractical. Am I right? If you only had tomorrow to live, wouldn’t you make it count? (Or maybe you’d just eat cookies all day and burn your diaries so no one would discover your deepest, darkest thoughts.) But if you had another 18,980 days you might be forgiven for slacking off a little and wasting time. (I hate to waste time but I have Instagram. So, I’m a hypocrite, basically. An old hypocrite.)
I don’t know. I’m figuring things out as I go along.
Tonight, I just read another blogger’s list of things she’s learned in forty years of living and I thought, hmmm. Maybe I should create my own list of things I’ve learned. Also, I thought, “Forty? Humph. Forty is so ten years ago.”
While the idea of writing a list of things I’ve learned in fifty years contains promise, I’m too tired (read: old) to come up with something tonight. I have all year anyway. (I hope. If I don’t, wouldn’t that be ironic? And tragic?)
For now, all that matters is that it’s my birthday.
I will celebrate and eat cake and postpone all chores and duties. I may also mourn my lost youth and wonder why I’m losing pigment even though my essential self–the me inside my brain–feels as vibrant as I was when I was twenty-two.
I will not remind myself that in ten years, I’ll be sixty or that in twenty years, I’ll be seventy or that it’s possible (WHY AM I EVEN THINKING THESE THOUGHTS?) I’ll be dead in thirty years. I remember thirty years ago. Thirty years isn’t really all that long. I’ll try not to be bitter that all of this ends for all of us with being dead.
Wait. Okay. Focus. Reframe. Stop with the morbid. Birthday! Cake! Presents!
Getting older is a gift you receive that you did not order and which you cannot return or exchange.
(If I were younger, I’d get that tattooed on my ribs or my collarbone or my scapula.) (Just kidding. I would not.)
I can’t seem to stop rambling. You know why? Old age.
Seriously. I’m going to bed now.
When I wake up . . . I will be fifty. When you read this, I will be at least fifty.
Fifty. Fifty. Fifty.
(If you are thirty or younger, you think I sound ancient. If you are seventy or older, you think I’m a whining whippersnapper. I’m just a rambling middle-aged woman who can’t quite find the punctuation mark to end this treatise.)
T H E E N D (of an era)