Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laughing at the passage of time

I can't stop it, or even slow it down. So, I may as well join the chorus of people who poke fun at their own aging process.

Today, at 7:59 AM, I'll officially turn 57. And by my own screwy, defiant reckoning, I'm still lingering in middle age, since I hold fast to the cherished goal of long surpassing the century mark. I'm just now getting started on yet another life stage.

I hit my peak physically at about 22, when I consistently weighed 100 lbs., even after a multi-course holiday meal, and "dieting" meant skipping dessert for a day or two to squeeze back into my slim skirts. Looking back, though, I was a "lightweight" emotionally and intellectually. I was still easily swayed by trends and others' opinions, and filled with anxiety regarding "where I should be in my life." I'd completed a patchwork of college courses, but the seesaw of indecision had been an obstacle to my degree. There was that broken engagement, and a pesky, whining ex-boy/fiance who kept calling, wanting to be friends! (To this day, I've never quite gotten that B.S. concept, except that it's a way of avoiding being brave and moving on to take responsibility for getting one's needs met.) And there was my "Silverlake life," when I resided in a hidden back-house apartment in that funky little L.A. enclave that still holds a tiny bit of the old 1970's charm. The insurance industry was centered on Wilshire Boulevard at that time, and I earned my living as an insurance support staffer--skipping merrily from job to job as my fancy struck.

In retrospect, all this dancing around was productive. I was, at my own pace, observing life and trying it on for size. Some of my adventures were totally benign, some outrageous (material for future posts--maybe!). My family and friends were often bewildered at my impulsiveness, but things were brewing in my subconscious.

At 26, I met my now-late husband. When I was 28, we had our son. At 33, I was widowed. Talk about life taking a hard turn...

I returned to my childhood home, and my mother and I set about raising my son, and developing a mutually-beneficial family arrangement. I've written about this life in prior posts. Men I dated proved skittish about taking on a "woman with a kid," so I became primarily involved with finishing school and working. The Bachelor's finally was completed when I was 40; the Master's, 42, and the doctorate, 52. My work is my therapeutic practice, adjunct professorship, my writing, and caring for Mom. Even today, I thought of a couple of more creative projects to begin soon.

And someone dear holds my affection.

As many of my high school and college friends are winding down their careers, I do lovingly wish them well. I made up my mind in my 20's, however, that I was just going to purposefully keep going. There has been so much heart and mind invested in my callings, I wouldn't give them up even if I struck it rich tomorrow. My post-40 discoveries about the world and myself keep unfolding, making up an ever-increasingly complex tapestry of psyche, an unbroken cycle of sharing and receiving...

So, this birthday greeting is from me to the world, with gratitude. Perhaps I'll treat myself to breakfast before church, waving my AARP card and coyly dropping the fact that it's my birthday. Or if I wait till 4 PM, I could get the 20% senior discount at Denny's...and coyly dropping the fact that it's my birthday...oh, I could have SO MUCH fun.

Where's Betty White when I need her? Her company would be a hoot, especially today!

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