I managed to get through my forties relatively unscathed. A few lines around my eyes, a little bit of cellulite here and there. Nothing devastating. Then I turned 50. And everything changed.
Did you know that after you turn 50 your skin no longer sticks to your body? Seriously. Add gravity to this lack of adhesion and it’s not pretty. It can pop up in the strangest places. My first really noticeable wrinkles showed up on my knees. I was so horrified by their appearance that I actually went on-line to see if plastic surgery was an option. It was, but not at a price I could afford. Besides, I knew I was being ridiculous. I wasn’t going to waste my time worrying about such trivial matters. I had more important things to dwell on. Like the fact that some of the skin on my face had worked its way loose and was now hanging out beneath my chin. It didn’t matter how many times I stood in front of the mirror, pulled that little waddle back with my fingertips and visually turned back the clock, it refused to stay put. I’ve even considered super glue, but haven’t worked up the nerve.
And my memory has abandoned me. I think that’s what I hate the most. I can’t tell you how often I’ve walked into a room and had to retrace my steps because I can’t remember why I went in there to begin with. And I constantly play word search. I know the words are tucked away somewhere in my head, I just can’t find them. Sometimes, the words are so simple that it doesn’t seem possible that anyone who has a reasonable command over the English language could actually forget them. But I do. And names. It doesn’t matter if I’ve known you for years. If I run into you somewhere and fail to introduce you to whoever I’m with, I’m not being rude. It’s because my gray matter is taking a nap.
It isn’t all bad. There are lots of things that can get better with age. Like wine. And cheese. And your children. They come to realize that you’re much smarter than they thought you were. You no longer have to tend to their daily needs, like washing their clothes and making sure that they’ve brushed their teeth and done their homework and so on. And once they have their own children–that’s the absolute best. You can play with your grandchildren, spoil them rotten and then give them back to their parents. When the little tykes throw a temper tantrum and refuse to eat anything but Lucky Charms for dinner, you can laugh ’cause you’re not the one who has to deal with it. Payback is bliss.
I’m think I’m wiser than I used to be. I don’t get upset over things that don’t matter, I don’t worry about what other people think and I spend a lot more time laughing at life’s little surprises. (Like finding BDS&M porn in a church rummage sale a couple of weeks ago–but I’ll leave that for another time.) I could even get really hoakie and say that I wear the signs of aging proudly. Every little crease, every gray hair, every millimeter of unattached skin represents a milestone in my fifty-plus years. However, you’ll never hear those words from me because it would be a load of crap and I try to limit most of my lying to writing novels. That gives me a convenient sedgeway into my next statement.
Getting older has made me a better writer. Some of that improvement comes from years of honing the craft, but much of it comes from simply having existed on the planet longer. I have a lot more life experiences to fall back on (when I can remember them) and that makes a difference.
After carefully considering both ends of the hourglass and comparing youthful good looks, energy, and a memory that works against wisdom, happiness, more freedom and the ability to spin a good tale, I’ve decided that I’m quite happy where I am. But I still wish my skin would stick.
What about you? Whether you’re twenty-something or eighty-something, or somewhere in-between, how have the passing years affected your life, your happiness or your writing? Let me hear from you.
Other blogs to check out!