July 8, 2007
While wanting to write for some time, the only thing that keeps manifesting in my head these days is this overwhelming feeling that time is passing too quickly. So apparently that’s what we’re going to talk about today, the fact that I’m getting old. Older by the day, hour, minute, and second – the clock is just tick, tick, ticking away. See, you can hear it too can’t you? It’s really very unsettling.
I know you can’t live in the past, and I agree that when you do you tend to miss out on the good stuff of the present, but uh…back then I was thinner and richer, and the countdown clock was not so tarnished and it also didn’t have all those scratches from where I keep clawing at it, trying to turn it back. I’m sure at some point in the near future I’ll make peace with the whole thing and look forward to the positives yet to come, like grandchildren and all. At the moment though I think I’m caught in that in-between place where the idea of one of my children bringing any of their off-spring around here sounds more like a tag-team attack than a “visit”, and I can’t see past the idea that Junior might inherit the proclivity to ask for food with every other breath to even consider that she might have that cute little nose I love so much. I’m definitely developing an understanding of the midlife crisis phenomenon – they say you can’t go back and you’re pretty sure going forward is not really going to work out in your favor in the end. Definitely triggers the rebel under that dry, fading, wrinkle-prone skin, now doesn’t it?
I used to be able to get up without groaning, limping, sighing, or having to have my hand supporting any part of my body. I did Yoga for goodness sakes! I was flexible, and I could do it without wiping out the décor of whatever half of the room I was in. Art stayed on the wall, tabletops stayed topped, the carpet didn’t get yanked out of its mooring – there was no plopping from pose to pose…I flowed, I’m telling ya! Trying to do a downward facing dog pose now would undoubtedly result in pain, followed by the realization that I pretty much may as well have found myself in a “fallen and can’t get up” situation since a team of professionals would be necessary to raise me back up. Then as I hung there quivering like a bunch of old, decrepit, almost-dead leaves barely hanging onto a branch for dear life (and arranged in an upside down “V” shape, no less, the poor things) I’m pretty sure I’d be greeted by an upward facing dog tongue right in the face, as my dearest companion tried to see if I was still breathing and to check whether she should strap on her rescue gear and try to pull me down. Follow this with a couple kids wandering by to ask, “Can I have a piece of toast?” (I’ve learned recently that is kid code for toast with peanut butter, banana, chocolate chips and possibly sprinkles if they’re available…and it’s best acquired by asking for just “toast” and then making sure all adults are busy elsewhere while you make it. Brilliant really.), and you’ve got yourself the makings of one great morning.
People get all freaked out about gray hair, but I’ve never been afraid of a little hair dye so I don’t really see the big deal. I also had some gray hair by about age twenty, so I’ve been kind of eased into the idea. The real problem is the stray hairs that appear out of nowhere in places where hair has NO right to propagate. NO RIGHT. That’s all I’m gonna say. No longer do I walk past all those creams and wax bottles in the health and beauty section and make snide little comments about the women on the bottle slathering that stuff on all manner of areas. Speaking of that, I also vividly recall watching weight loss commercials – you know, the “for just ______ dollars a week, you can lose ________ pounds!” ones? I used to see those and say “OR, you can do it for free, just get up and move!” While my premise was technically true, and still is, I now wouldn’t mind going back and beating my twenty-something self into a skinny, income earning, shiny-haired (where it’s supposed to be!), glowing, elastic-skinned, cute little outfit wearing pile of GOO.
Then there are the phrases…the stuff you say that would surely date you down to the exact moment of your birth, or the ones that prove you spent too much time at grandpa’s house when you were a kid and adapted all his phrases, which really throws off the urban dating process and just generally confuses people. All of this would apply, of course, if you were talking to someone over the age of consent maybe – before that they couldn’t even find a context for what you’re trying to say. My husband called one of the kids a “push-over” the other day, and they stopped, tilted their heads, and made a “ruh?” type noise. He laughed and said to me, “I guess I might as well have called the couch a davenport, huh?” I said I wasn’t sure if that made you old, or if it maybe more made you British? We then debated whether they still use that term there or if it’s “old” no matter where you are, etc. Then we probably both fell asleep tipped back in our Lazy Boys while still “watching” the TV (with both eyes closed, of course). I honestly can’t believe I can say things like:
“Remember when there were no television remotes?”
“Remember rabbit ears, and three channels?”
“Remember when you used to have to let questions like ‘What else have we seen that guy in?’ bother you for DAYS?”
“Remember when slideshows required the clearing of an entire wall?” (I could totally clear that wall now with one yoga move, by the way).
I swear to you, when I hear things like:
“I cannot believe you’re complaining about walking out to the road to get the mail! When I was your age, I had to ride my bike a mile and a half to the store and then carry a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread back with me – and I didn’t even have a darn basket on my bike! Do you have any idea what happens when a loaf of bread gets caught in your wheel spokes? DO YOU?”
come out of my mouth…I’m just astonished. It’s like the evil curse of “Woman, you are OLD!” takes over my mouth and I just can’t stop myself!
We took a bike ride the other day, and my oldest daughter kept stopping to pick up frogs that were sunning themselves on the trail – moving them out of the way so they wouldn’t get run over. She stopped for one when there were bikers coming the other way and she didn’t quite get there fast enough. The kids caught up to us a few minutes later, all somber and teary after witnessing vehicular frogicide, or I suppose it could’ve been frog suicide by bike – who knows? The rest of the way back they were down about it, offering such nuggets of truth as “There just aren’t as many frogs out there as people think!” and in response to my “circle of life” attempt at grief relief: “It’s not the circle of life when humans get in the middle of stuff they don’t belong in, mom”. At some point I think I managed to convince them that the circle of life has room for that whole natural selection process and whether we like it or not, we’re all part of it. When you’re young you watch the “older set” and for awhile you envy them, eating whatever they want, never asking permission, not going to school, etc., etc. Then at some point you make a hard right and realize those poor people aren’t having even a bit of fun and they’re not fooling you with their fake exuberance at new lawn tractors and washing machines, nor do you believe for one second that they’re enjoying playing Pictionary with their equally old and lame siblings at the grandparents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary “party”, and you definitely use that term loosely – they could learn a thing or two about fun from you.
Then suddenly, one day you look around and realize you’re no longer up there on the bow of the ship with your arms outspread, greeting the world. Instead you’re straddling the stern, both feet in the water and looking behind you for a rope to grab on to. Depressing, no? Take heart though, *someone* has to be back there. It’s balance baby! Without those at the back trying to slow things down, and those of us in the middle looking around wildly and jumping back and forth between going forward, and slowing down, or maybe wanting to just stay damn still for two seconds to think…well, without all that, those idiots hanging their butts out over the front edge would plunge in face first and sink into much deeper waters than they’re ready to handle. Trying to pretend you still belong up front with the kiddies only throws off the balance entirely, and you end up bobbing around down there, soaking wet with your comb-over hanging down to your chin and. Not worth it, trust me.
I’m thinking I might try Tai Chi. Slow motion is definitely my speed of choice so it seems perfect, with lots of time for geriatric minds to consider the next move before it comes. Every time I see it on TV they seem to be in a basically upright position, which seems prudent, and there are always gray heads in the bunch. Now before you worry that I’m aging before my time, remember that I’m in that middle stage so there’s really nothing to be concerned about. One minute I’ll be staggering around, half bent over and limping, having just risen from the depths of a davenport, and the next I’ll be sprinting ahead to save a frog – I will find the strength and agility - because you better believe I’ll do *anything* to avoid another circle of life conversation.
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