Eight days until the mother of all birthdays. In eight days I can no longer delude myself and think I’m young or even really middle aged.
Women talk about their 40’s as if it’s ancient, and I have no idea what they’re talking about.
When I look at pictures of myself I see that sweet glow of youth; the “perfect” features people made such a big deal about. The body that was always on a diet—even when it was much better than OK. The teeth I ruined because I wanted great ones.
Yet I enjoyed myself. I went to grad school. It was too easy so I made each paper a mite more difficult than it was supposed to be.
My research professor, the one most people hated, because he had the nerve to fail people and a “B” was a good grade in his classes was the only professor to call me on that.
“You’re going to get an “A,” so why are you going so far?”
Because I could. Because I felt like the six year old who would get up to read an old outdated “Book of Knowledge,” every single volume.
At six I thought if I read all the volumes I would know everything there was to know. By eight I realized no encyclopedia could teach me everything. And reading a 1918 set was like reading history. I love history so I continued.
At 44, I still felt fresh and excited by life’s opportunities. A woman I worked with once said: “you only have a few years before men find you invisible. No matter what you look or act like.”
Her words stung like ten jellyfishes all attacking my feet at once. But really I just wanted to learn as much as I could, contribute to the world, and have fun. Oh yeah—solve world peace. Not really. I always knew if I left my mark on one little corner of the world I would have done something worthy.
At 51 I began an entirely new career. I love writing, and I was given a great opportunity to write for a new paper that was actually excellent even in its infancy.
One day I was watching a documentary, and realized I could interview the people in the movie, and do something worthy so I did. My stories were multi-award nominated; made it in the finals of some very prestigious awards.
I was a rookie with a lot of research, and interviewing experience. I knew how to get people to talk; to relax them so they said a bit too much.
I pulled all nighters. After one all nighter I flew to the Bahamas for a wedding, and stayed up past Midnight exploring with the bride and groom. The wedding itself did me in but I was proud I lasted so long. Not bad for a woman long old enough to be a grandmother.
I probably would have enjoyed the interviews more had I been younger. But I felt dirty; as if I were doing something wrong.
Then I discovered blogging. For years I never had writers block, never wanted to stop writing.
Now it’s harder, much harder. I don’t know if it’s age, or I’m tired of myself, or once more I just want to have fun.
I will finish the book I’m writing, or die trying.
But I’m so sad. So scared. I thought delaying Social Security until I’m 70 (which sounds much younger, and elegant than the age I’m turning) would keep the fear at bay.
I was so young for so long. And now I can no longer pretend. Is being ambitious a joke? Or will having ambitions, dreams, and working on them keep age at bay?
I don’t know. In eight days when I turn 65 I will begin to know.
Oh I am scared. So scared.