“Old Lady of Havana” shot by Mark Daniel, 2009. I feel like we’re kindred spirits.
Still counting down to 50.
40. The fact that I had to reread the first paragraph of most of my “This is Fifty” posts is a sad reminder of why this particular post is relevant.
No matter how good you feel, no matter how much you’re not dreading entering a new decade of life, no matter how much you avoid letting the sun give you wrinkles or you color the gray out of your hair, there are some things about getting older you just can’t run away from.
- A failing memory is at the top of my list. I don’t worry so much about Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s the more routine memory fails that really piss me off: the name of my neighbor’s mother, the movie that that one actress starred in, going to the store to buy coffee and spending $50 – without buying coffee, wondering why I came into a room.
- New aches and pains. I’ve always been a clutz and had my first serious knee injury when I was 10. Still, excruciating pain in my left knee last fall kept me from work some days, made getting around with the dog absolutely horrible, and made it next to impossible to sleep through the night. I went to the doctor expecting a torn meniscus and was right – but also have osteoarthritis so bad that fixing the meniscus would be moot. Lovely.
- Taking naps. I never realized the luxury of the nap until I was well into my 40s. They’re not a daily requirement, by any means – but most days I could fall asleep at any time, in any place, if given the opportunity.
- Seeing my daughter post a link to a “Most kids today won’t know how hard it was” list, and then realizing that NONE of those things were issues when I was a kid. The trauma of having to carry a phone AND an mp3 player in your pocket?? Yeah, we spent our youth moving in stealth with no tracking device or means for our parents to find us. It was luxurious.
- Bifocals. As though wearing glasses wasn’t hard enough, but having to discern whether you should tilt your head backward or forward or to just peer over the top of your glasses without losing your line of sight or still being able to see at all. And using bifocals on the tiny screen on your cell phone? Yeah – that’s a treat.
In all honesty, getting older is just about doing your best to feel good where you are. For the most part, I do.
Unless I’m forgetting something.
Part of an ongoing-but-irregular countdown to 50.
75. Everyone talks about how things start to get more difficult as you age: losing weight, exercising, reading without glasses, finding your car keys, remembering just why it is you walked into a room or opened a closet door. I get all those – and fully agree with all of them.
But there are a few things I really hope get easier as we age.
- Budgeting money – I’ve never been a financial whiz, to be sure, but learning to live on a budget – and to say “no” to myself – has become a priority to me since my divorce 15 years ago. Part of it comes from the fact that until three years ago, I didn’t have any credit cards – we gave them up as part of the divorce proceeding (never mind) and I never got another one until recently. Truly living on what you have is an eye-opening experience. I’ll admit to splurging a bit when I finally did break down and get a card, but I’ve tempered that part of my brain with the, “but if we save we can go places!” philosophy (Ireland, here I come!). So far, so good. It’s still tight, I still cut things out of my budget to make room for other things, but, as they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
- Budgeting time – This one comes a bit harder to me. It’s no secret that I tend to spread myself a bit too thin (that came up twice in my performance review at work) and – more times than I’d like – I run late to personal events and outings. I think one of the reasons I don’t go to a lot of movies is because I worry about being late. Mostly because I usually am.
- Dating – While this will certainly make a best-selling book someday, dating in my 40s was … interesting. There were a few relationships and an awful lot of awful lines from potential suitors (“I’m getting tired of the five-knuckle shuffle” or “Like most redheads I bet your [sic] built like a brick house”) or from those who I actually went out with (remember the gross, “I’d like to put my skin boat in your tuna chute”? Still makes my skin crawl.). I swear I’m hearing more bad come-ons now than I did before I was married.
- Living – This one definitely gets better with age, at least I think so. I gave up home ownership seven years ago and really, really like renting – the idea of someone else picking up the tab when the water heater dies, or the air conditioning goes out is quite appealing. And right now I’m in the middle of another transition – moving from a building where I’m kind of embarrassed to have first-time guests visit – the smell of marijuana is overpowering, litter in the yard is off-putting, the broken front door and burned-out hall lights slum-looking – to a secure building where, theoretically, “shit gets done.” Living better to me also means enjoying life, being happy – you never know when you won’t get another tomorrow, so enjoy today. That’s what I try to do. Live with no regrets.
- Finally figuring out why I really did go into that room – Yeah, I doubt I’ll figure that one out, either.