Part of a daily countdown to my 50s.
- There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to in the coming decade – I’ve had a lot of personal growth and I see more of it coming – but there are definitely some things I’m going to miss. Hell, I’m missing a lot of them now.
- My eyes. It’s been about four years since I got tired of squinting at the TV trying to see the score of a football game or moving my phone around just so I could read a text without difficulty and decided to go to the eye doctor. I was expecting glasses, but I wasn’t expecting bifocals. Those are for old people – you know, people whose kids are grown, who are … oh. Nevermind. I’ve gotten used to using bifocals, but I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to admitting that I have them.
- The ability to stand up without noise or difficulty. I used to love sitting on the floor – I’d turn down a chair in favor of the floor if there weren’t enough chairs to go around, and I spent many Sunday afternoons playing solitaire on the floor. I could stretch out, lean against the sofa or a wall, it was all good. Now, I cringe at the thought. Getting up from the floor now means using the sofa or the wall as a brace to help boost me up. Low-sitting chairs and sofas are the same. Part of it is due to osteoarthritis, but I know age plays a part, too.
- Not knowing what osteoarthritis feels like. I had just done a story about a woman who’d had surgery for OA and thought how painful it sounded. Then I went in to talk to my doctor about a constant pain I’d been having in my knee. I did have a torn meniscus, he said, but we couldn’t do surgery because of advanced OA. Yippee.
- My memory. I’m not at risk of Alzheimer’s, but I have to admit I find myself sometimes telling a story and I get to a point where I just stop and … it’s gone. The word I was going to use has disappeared from my brain.
- Being the youngest at the office. When I started my first journalism job in 1989, I was the youngest person in the newsroom. Despite working at a newspaper with somewhat of a revolving door – it was good training ground for rookie reporters – I managed to stay the youngest, or among the youngest, for quite some time. Now I find myself working alongside coworkers who are the same age as my children. It’s … humbling.
- Being able to have just one drink too many and not have a headache in the morning. This one needs no explanation, really.
- My metabolism. Why can you put five pounds on in a week, but it takes a month to take it off? I blame new math.
There are more, I’m sure, but I’ve forgotten them. And I need to spend the next three minutes trying to stand up so I can go switch my laundry.
Part of my daily countdown to 50
92. One of the things I’ve really come to appreciate, especially in the later part of my 40s, is finding “me time.” That’s not necessarily time to myself, but rather time spent enjoying what I enjoy doing.
I was out with friends last night for St. Patrick’s Day and I was reminded just how much that part of me has changed. It wasn’t uncommon for me to make plans with friends and then flake out the day before, or sometimes hours before. Money was part of the issue – you have some when you make the plans but it disappears in the days leading up to it – but so were exhaustion, headaches and, frankly, sudden attacks of anxiety about being out in public.
That last one, the anxiety, was the one that completely mystified me – as a reporter for 22 years, I felt no anxiety whatsoever talking to strangers, walking into a variety of situations to talk to sources (businesses, gatherings, events), and doing so alone. But take the notebook out of my hands and suddenly I’m a person – open to judgment, condescension and scrutiny.
In the last decade, though, I’ve gradually stripped my anxieties away. I ate in restaurants by myself. I stuck with plans I’d made. If I was meeting friends for drinks, I no longer asked one of them to wait outside so I didn’t have to go in alone (that was the hardest one to conquer, but I did) and I’ve even – just once – gone into a bar and had a drink alone while waiting for a project to be completed at a nearby business.
There is one more I’ve yet to get past: going to a movie alone. I don’t know why, I just haven’t done that one yet. Maybe this weekend.