It’s the eve of my 50th birthday. Fifty years ago back in 1967, my mom was nine months pregnant, ready to burst. Tonight she is in as assisted living facility, wishing to feel better. Her parents, my grandparents, have been gone for years. Her sister, her ex-husband and boyfriends, all gone. Fifty years ago, I was an innocent baby, waiting to begin my life in the crazy era of the Vietnam War. Now, I’m a middle aged, not so innocent, twice divorced, single mom of two, sitting at home alone, wondering how much longer I get to be here. Will I get another five, ten, or fifty years? What is my number? I’d like another fifty. That would be so great. I could see my sons grow older like I am now. God, I hope so. I could help more teens graduate, write more books, go on more trips, experience more joy, maybe fall in love for real and have it last for the years I have left, learn and read more. There’s so much to do still. Will I get to do it?
Can I slow down the clock please?
The first fifty seemed to fly by. Seems like yesterday I was pretending to be Wonder Woman in the front yard, spinning around then catching bad guys. Now there’s an actual movie about her. Damn! (That sure took a long time.) Wasn’t it just a few years ago I was in love with my high school boyfriend, hoping we’d get married one day. No, it wasn’t. More like over thirty years ago, but who’s counting? I know it’s been years, but it doesn’t feel like it. All those memories are alive in me. I can see myself in those moments, being me, living, doing my life. I see the same thing in my mom. She talks about the memories of her youth while she pushes her walker. Her body is old, but her being is not.
Getting older is good, considering the alternative, but it’s also weird and terrifying.
All these moments of who you are bring you to this big day, your birthday, and take you farther from your youth and closer to the end, but it’s amazing to have another birthday. I’m so lucky. I know it. So many people aren’t having birthdays anymore. My best friend’s last birthday was her thirty-first. I miss her so. She and I would have done something special to celebrate the milestones, but she’s not here. I guess that’s the sad part of birthdays – missing those who aren’t here to celebrate with us. Not only missing those who passed, but those living who have left our lives. People who we love but aren’t with anymore. Birthdays make me think a lot about those who are not in my world anymore. We are supposed to celebrate and be surrounded by people who love us, but the truth is that doesn’t happen for lots of us. Maybe that is the lingering sadness that haunts me. Or maybe it’s just exhaustion from all the stress that fifty years brings. Or maybe it’s not being where I think I should be in life. I don’t know.
I remember when I was a kid, looking at my aunts and uncles and thinking they were old. They were in their twenties and thirties. To me they seemed old. Now I’m older than they were when I thought they were old. That’s weird. I’m in a new place. I’m the one who should know stuff. Old people should know stuff – have it figured out, right? That’s a lot of pressure. When you reach the other half of your life (you hope you still have half to go), there’s the pressure of reflection on what you’ve accomplished. Is this where the young version of me thought she’d be? I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t remember thinking this far ahead. Regardless, I am where I’m at. I can’t change how my life is when I wake up on my fiftieth. I’ve done my best. I wish somethings were different, but I think we all do. Being dissatisfied helps motivate us, but it can also be damn depressing.
I’m turning fifty tomorrow and well, I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t have all that I wanted to have by the time I was fifty. That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s my truth. I could list all the things that are not the way I think they should be, but that would be ridiculous because everything is as it should be. I live and work where I’m supposed to. I weigh and look like I’m supposed to. The relationships that I wanted to last didn’t, like they were supposed to and it’s okay. It all just has to be okay. I’m turning fifty. Yay, I made it! Oh crap, I hope I still can do all I want to do. Time is ticking.