Is that the face of a 65 year old woman? Does it matter?
I never thought I’d let a certain number get to me. I greeted 40 and 50 and 60 with complete equanimity, and I was looking forward to medicare which has been GREAT. But for some reason the number came up like something deadly on a slot machine (not that deadly things come up on a slot machine) and I’ve been in a funk ever since.
I’ve felt like everything’s over. I kept waiting until I finally hit the big time, but now I think that time has passed completely. Just because I turned a certain number. I’m afraid I’m going to die soon. Granted, the older I get the sooner I’m going to die, but I could have died six years ago when I had borderline ovarian cancer (I was going to cancel my appointment and not bother with rescheduling because it seemed like a fuss over nothing. Instead I went and was in surgery 5 days later).
But I digress. I feel like parts of me are wearing out, like my knees and my wrists and my skin. Well, my skin is really good, as my mother’s was. My wrists and knees have been bad since my 40s, and the knees can be replaced.
But I started thinking about being tired of all the stress, thinking “don’t I deserve a rest at my age?” and all sorts of stuff like that. I’ve always deserved a rest from taking care of everyone — age has nothing to do with it. And you get fed up when you get fed up — it has nothing to do with a magic number.
Basically I’ve just been seeing myself as “over.” It makes the idea of moving seem depressing, because even though we’re isolated here we’d be even more isolated elsewhere. I think I have to be around my grandchildren, and god knows I want to be, but at the expense of everything else in my life? At the expense of Richie’s happiness?
Anyway, a couple of days ago things suddenly slipped into perspective. I can be any age I damned well please — numbers don’t define me. I come from long-lived stock if people don’t drink or smoke. There’s almost no cancer in the family (so far just one first cousin. None of the aunts and uncles or grandparents or parents). I can live forever, I can be glorious. For some reason I lost track of that.
One reason might be society’s emphasis on retirement. I’m not going to retire — I write because I love to. I wish I didn’t have to be such a slave to contracts, though.
I think having almost my entire family (except Mini-me) be dead is part of it too. I’m older than my father, brother or sister ever were. I really have no peers up here. I have Crusie, but you know, Crusie is a force of nature. She can do anything — leap tall buildings in a single bound etc. Just because Crusie can do something doesn’t mean I can.
But all this feeling defeated is just so much crap. I can write the best book of my life when I’m seventy-two. I can go for longer walks at 75 than I did at 45 if I get my knees in shape and work on the rest of my body. I can still be glorious — it takes more than a stupid number to dim my light.
I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out. Maybe because Richie’s been depressed. Maybe because the financial burden still seems overwhelming. Maybe because there’s another change in my life that leads toward feeling older, but since that involves someone else I don’t think it fair to talk about it in even our private-sort-of public.
But you know, fuck that. Instead of standing on the shore waving pathetically as life passes me by, I’m going to take a flying leap off the cliff and do a spectacular landing in a warm, sparkly sea, grinning like Esther Williams. I’m going to be the person I was meant to be, even if that person is a little over the top for some people. I feel like I’ve been tied up, confined, lectured to, and now I’m breaking free of all that.
Phew! We get really ridiculous over some things, don’t we? At least, I do. Maybe the rest of you are more sensible.
So my goal is think about all the things I can do. Not a fucking bucket list — I’m not even going to think about the bucket. Just a world full of wonderful things, a brain full of wonderful things, opportunities and delight. I’m ready.