Age 5: I was Raggedy Ann to Neil Fishbein’s Raggedy Andy in the end-of-year school show. I loved Neil and he loved me. This would seem to set me up for a lifetime of bliss (talk about “getting old together”) but, the day ended tragically. My fake braids smeared my heavy white theatrical face paint into a pretty close approximation of the Dawn of the Dead. Neil’s family moved to another neighborhood. Tragically, because he was five years old, he was forced to go with them. It would be eight years before I would see him again. By then, we would have each gone our separate ways.
Age 15: This was a year of anguish, followed by terror. Anguish that no boy would ever ask me to go steady, terror that one actually did. I agitated all night, called him in the morning, told him I couldn’t go steady with him. He said “Oh, OK.” Like it didn’t matter anyway.
Age 25: Married, just out of grad school, one year into my first special ed teaching job. Life was great, if you consider having a classroom of potential Jeffrey Dahmers great. I spent a lot of time crying in the bathroom and reassessing my career choice.
Age 35: A two year old, a six year old, a seven year old, a job as a realtor. I spent a lot of time screaming at my kids, “Hey! If people had personal computers and someone invented blogs and then invented mommy blogs, I would have an outlet for all this! I could write about you kids all day long and people would laugh their guts out and subscribe and comment and I could watch my stats all day and dream about being Freshly Pressed! ” And the kids yelled back “If there were computers, you’d be running to us all day to answer your questions and fix your problems. And if you had a blog you wouldn’t know how to do anything but put a stupid old timey photo at the top.”
Age 45: Then Husband and I separated. I bought a house. The real estate market went into the crapper, and with it, my income. I used heat sparingly (the plants flourished), didn’t eat out, served the kids Hot Pockets for dinner, and never went on vacation. I spent some time crying in the bathroom, reassessing my life choices.
Age 55: I was selling a lot of real estate, running a speed dating company, and being too busy to notice that I was divorced and living alone with a cat. When Now Husband came along, he was attracted to my being far too busy to want a permanent relationship. In retaliation, I sold the speed dating company the following year.
Age 65: The kids are grown and have survived sibling mayhem, parental divorce, and too many dinners of Hot Pockets. They are, remarkably, pretty remarkable adults. They chose significant others who are also their best friends. They love their jobs, their friends, and the cities they live in. My daughter has two children and she emulates only the best of my parenting, while leaving out the stuff we won’t talk about.
Now Husband jokingly tells people that his main activity in life is to make me happy. Except he isn’t joking. And he assumes all men must be hot for me. I laugh when he says that, although the real truth is that I can still turn heads.
I hate that my body moves more slowly than it used to, that when I roll over in bed, my back hurts, that sex is accomplished in mostly one position, that photos of myself scare me, that I can no longer run up and down the stairs or sit in a pretzel position on the floor or reach way under the bed to grab something. I hate that reaching way down into the crib to pick up my grandson must be planned like a military operation . I hate that my memory fails at the oddest times, that I am beginning to lose a grip on pop culture, that I think a lot about being home in bed with a book when I am out in the evening. I hate that people in charge can look younger than my children.
I love that I own my age. I love that I embrace the years, each and every one. I love that two friends and I decided to write a book and we did. And then we wrote another. I love that we have been so fortunate to have spoken to countless people and that they have shared their dreams with us and inspired us and made us grateful every day for the community of women.
I love that I am funny and that I can see the absurdities of life. I love that I can laugh so hard in public that I pee in my pants, preparing me for the time when I will pee in my pants without the aid of humor. I love that I am silly and irreverent and can still embarrass the hell out of my children. I love that my kid’s friends seem to actually enjoy my company. I love that I am still fifteen inside, but without the fear of boys.
I love that life is finite but vision is infinite. I love that I have been thinking about making a 20 year plan and I have declared that the next twenty years will be the most powerful period of my life. I love that my plan scares me. In a good way.
Saturday, May 5, is the day. Happy 65th Birthday to me. Go celebrate amongst yourselves.