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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Notes on a Birthday - or hitting the REAL Middle Age Years

Photo - taken by Liz with her Iphone.  
Waking up with Nibblet on my birthday.  This what I look like today and it's okay with me.

Cue the music - Today is/was my birthday.  I like birthdays and I especially like my birthday.  Not the presents or special treatment or cake (well, of course the cake and a bit the presents and treatment), I like the idea of embracing and celebrating one's life and for making it through another year.  I've written before that my mother has age-phobia issues, refusing to admit her true chronological age, to the point that it's become psychotic and dangerous.  Let's just say that she lies so much about her age that there is no time warp that could explain my 44 years of existence.  I am truly a by-product of the infamous South Philadelphia Senior-Week shenanigans; a baby practically born at South Philly's best Maternity Ward - St. Maria Goretti High School, my mother is barely a generation older than me.  However because she's so mental about her age, I feel I've been forced to embrace my climbing years with a swaggering brio I might not have chosen I had not been raised by a crazy wolf who is afraid of getting old.  
There are a few key phrases I've heard in my lifetime that I truly cherish — "If you are lucky, you return to the true person you were when you were five." "When we are old, we get the face we deserve." "You will be fabulous in your 40's." I'm trying hard to be that inquisitive and open-minded, wide-eyed wondering child of five, with the knowledge and smarts of all the intervening years.  I embrace the wrinkles and lines forming on my face, giving me character to match the character I think I am.  As for being fabulous in my 40's (a statement told to me in my early 20's by an older girlfriend)-well, I certainly have been enjoying this 4th decade of my life.  It's too late to do anything drastic about the past and the past has been gone too long to care!  I hopefully have a lot of years ahead of me to do more fun things and have more adventures to share with Nate, Liz and many other friends and family.  

I've remembered some notable birthdays of my life today: My 10th birthday, a party held at local restaurant — my 4th grade girl friends taking bets if I would come wearing a dress or not.  I did, and kinda enjoyed the spectacle that I cause - I felt like I was dressed in a costume. Maybe my first "drag" act?
Turning 17 and this great party at my house — my mom's friends were upstairs and my friends were downstairs in the basement.  It was 1986.  I almost kissed a girl that year.  Almost.
Turning 18 and spending it with my best friend and her family since my mother felt it was more important to extend her vacation in Florida that year.  It was better for me - I was with people who cared.
Turning 19, at college and having new friends stand in as my family.  There were balloons.
20 - coming out, going to clubs, having lots of new experiences.  It was a manic time in my life but I wouldn't trade the many experiences I had for anything.
31 - a night out at The Victor Cafe - The Opera Lover's Rendezvous, with many good friends. That was the year when I stopped being young and dumb.  I was still young but I didn't do that, "Oh, Gawd, I'm 30!" bullsh#t that we all do. It was also the year my friend Cheryl sang happy birthday to me in her raspy Texas voice while she channeled Ethel Merman doing opera.  Legendary.
35 - a surprise party that Liz threw for me after a church pot luck supper.  I can still remember coming home, seeing candles lit in our house and thinking "OH NO! I left the candles on!  I could have burned down the house!" I didn't even see the people standing in our living room.
40 - I looked forward to my 40th birthday since I was 24, when my old girlfriend assured me that I would be fabulous in my 40's.  I spent the last night of being 39, out carousing with friends with whom I spent many previous birthdays.  There was a lot of drinking. Good beers and Manhattans.  I think I may still have a residual post-birthday debauchery hang-over four years later!  For my birthday, we went shopping.  That night we had a terrific dinner out with 10 or 12 of our most favorite people.  
Turning 44, which as I now understand, means I'm entering my 45th year of life, is more the middle of one's life than when you are in your 50's or 60's.  Let's face it, the odds are better that I will, or any of us will, last into our 80's than living into our 90's or reaching the bewitching Smuckers Birthday Years of the 100s.  I don't think a robo-version of Willard Scott will be wishing me Happy 100 on the Today Show - even if I continue to be a bike riding/bicycle chef granny.  The road only goes forward in life or it stops and there's no more scenery.  I'll keep pedaling forward, thanks.

4 comments:

  1. Well said, my friend! I like that...'The road only goes forward in life or it stops and there's no more scenery.' I couldn't agree more!

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  2. The 5-year-old me loved reading, writing and rearranging my room. So I guess I consider myself quite lucky to be a writer and decorator nearly 40 years later!

    Here's some other great advice I've learned to be true: age often has little to do with how much you enjoy life. I've met 70-somethings with more zest than women half their age. Without joy and a sense of humor, you're old at any age. So, Denine, that means you are still quite young! Enjoy.

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  3. I love this post, so glad you have so many fond b-days to remember. Especially love the 10 year-old you "in drag". But I'm more in agreement with your mother. I try very hard to pretend to be at least a decade younger. True, there are women in their 70's with a zest for life, but they still look 70. I think the day I look in the mirror and truly look my age, will be the day I check out, or at least do away with mirrors.

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  4. LeAnne aka Tinseltine.com - thanks for reading this and for the comments. Yes, it can be enticing to try to be younger - but there are limits. Knowing you as I do, and for as long as I have, I see you as the youngster we were when we first met. There's no need to pretend - age is a number and how we feel, look, and behave is another thing - a state of mind and attitude. You and I don't look our ages (what age are you?!!!) I have friends in their 60's and knew the most phenomanal woman who lived into her 90's - out running all of us! Yeah, eventually time catches us and it shows upon our visage but our spirts are ageless.

    Doreen - Barbara - Thank you both too for the comments. Glad there was a nugget of truth in here that connected to you both!

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