I seem to be mired in a deep rut these days. The sides are slippery and I feel like even if I could climb out of it, there is a deep sink hole waiting to swallow me up just outside this rut. So maybe I’ll stay right here. This is that crazy time “Middle Age”*** – can’t quite pull off young and not yet ready for the retirement home. Somewhere between having to worry about birth control and funeral arrangements. Here are ten truths I’ve discovered about middle age:
1. I had it good back in the day.
But I didn’t know it. I thought I was fat. Now I am all set for the next famine. I had boundless energy. Now I can barely lift the remote. I could play poker all night, work all day, and sling meals effortlessly. Now I can barely make reservations. I managed a household on top of a full time job and 2 robust and active boys. Now I manage to get from the bed to work to the couch and call it a good day.
2. Beauty is a full time job.
In my younger days, I could still turn a few heads (especially if those heads had been drinking). Getting dolled up meant enhancing my natural assets with a touch of mascara and lip gloss. Now I fill wrinkles with spackle and cover age spots with a thick layer of “age defying” shellac. Even industrial strength hair coloring cannot cover what is growing out of my head, and my chin hairs are alarming in both their length and strength. My moustache is envied by Justin Bieber. I’d give myself a pedicure if I could reach (or even see) my toes. But I don’t know why I bother because…
3. You become invisible.
Somewhere around 43 or 44 you will become invisible – no matter how beautiful (or loud, or funny) you are. Children are cute, youngsters are hip and savvy. Oldsters are entitled to respect and senior discounts. You are just there – sort of – if anyone even notices. All those things you thought you’d do if you were invisible – not happening.
4. Half the distance takes you twice as long.
I can no longer open jars by myself, my eyesight is failing faster than my vision insurance covers new lenses, and my teeth are wearing down. I have fillings older than many billionaire CEO whippersnappers and they are working loose at an alarming rate (the fillings – not the CEOs). My joints are achy and any rapid movements could land me in traction. While I don’t yet need a hover-round, I am not exactly zipping about on foot, either. I’ve traded sexy shoes for comfortable ones. I spend 2 hours a day on exercise – an hour dreading it, half an hour trying to talk myself into it (by promising myself a bowl of ice cream afterward), and 30 minutes letting the dog drag me down the sidewalk.
5. Your brain will let you down.
I can’t remember things. Except at 3:00 a.m. Then I remember the name I couldn’t recall when I saw that old acquaintance today. I remember what I meant to get at the grocery store but couldn’t remember where I left my list. I remember birthdays on the day of – too late to send a card, but if I’m lucky, not too late to call or Skype, if I could remember where my cell phone is or remember my Skype password. I remember to feed the dog when she begins gnawing on my leg. Then I remember I meant to get dog food.
6. Your life is filled with wonder.
You wonder why bad things happen to good people. You wonder how many times a heart can break. You wonder how a One Minute Manager can make 8 hours seem like a year. You wonder why liars, abusers, thieves, perverts, killers and other rat-bastards get to breathe the same air as the most innocent child. You wonder if you’ve done enough with your life. You wonder what you did to deserve the bounty you’ve been given. You wonder why monogamy seems so hard for so many. You wonder if you’ll be remembered for your wit or your chocolate chip cookies, or for walking around with your skirt tucked up in your pantyhose. You wonder why it takes 10 minutes to consume a pan of brownies but 7 hours on the treadmill to get rid of them. You wonder where in the hell you left your car keys.
7. You have enemies.
Time, insomnia, karma, and gravity.
8. You start hanging out with well-educated rich people.
Pharmacists, orthopedists, ophthalmologists and MDs.
9. Your roles change.
Your children are grown, even if they still live in the basement. You’ve imparted all the lessons you’re gonna give ‘em – they still know more than you (for a few more years, at least). Your parents are off enjoying their retirements and spending your inheritance. They’ve imparted all the lessons they’re gonna give you and they still know more than you (for a few more years, at least). You get to worry about both and can control neither.
10. This is the time of your life.
You’ve done a lot of hard work. You watch your children work to find their way in this world, and you remember the journey. You know who you are and what you are. You’ve seen enough to know what is coming down the road…if you live long enough you’ll lose family members, friends, acquaintances and co-workers to disease or accidents. You enjoy the health you have left, even as you feel it slipping away. You will never again be as young as you are today. Youth and beauty may be leaving you in the dust, but you know that experience, wisdom and treachery trump all that, anyway.
***I am middle-aged if my life expectancy is 114.