Today is my birthday. It’s not a “big” birthday by the category of birthdays that end in “0″, but instead a mid-birthday. I am at that teetering point between two “big” birthdays that end in “0″. Today I turn the speed limit. Double nickels. Old enough to order from the senior menu, but young enough to be too embarrassed to do so.
Throughout my work day, people would jokingly ask me “Which speed limit?!?” because indeed, in California, there are different speed limits on different roads — interstates are generally 70; and highways are 55 to 65 depending. Me? I’m the lower speed limit. Fifty-five. Halfway to 60. Gulp.
After this year, I can no longer say I’m “just over” 50. I will be “on the way” to 60. Age is just a number. Right? But I’ve never been this age before. It feels weird to be 55. I don’t know why.
Remember when you were a kid? Remember how much you longed to be older? To look older? I remember how excited I was to turn 10. Ten… I had two numbers in my age! Yes!!
Then it was 16. I couldn’t WAIT to be 16 and get my driver’s license. I remember clearly coming home from the DMV with my newly minted driver’s license in my hand, and my parents being understanding enough to let me jump back into the car and take my first solo drive! What a thrill that was, what an incredible feeling of freedom, of grown-upness, of taking that first shaky step toward independence from one’s parents. It was exhilarating!
Then it was 18. I yearned to turn 18. I thought everyone would respect me once I was 18. I am adult now! I’d brag, as I prepared that August day to leave for college. Yet another giant step towards independence.
Next, it was 21. I thought I would NEVER turn 21. It felt like the years between 18 and 21 took eons to go by. I would occasionally check my calendar to see if time was going backwards. Having a late summer birthday, all my friends turned 21 MONTHS before I did, and they would dash off to the bars and clubs, carelessly leaving me behind to wallow in my self-pity.
That was the last birthday I actually remember greeting with great anticipation. However, I did yearn to turn 30, because I felt that people dismissed me based on my youth. “Pffffft!” they would exclaim. “You’re only 20-something. What do you know?!?”
Then the day came when I actually turned 30. I could finally say I was in my 30s. Indeed, I found others treated me with greater respect as I matured through my 30s. Looking back, I imagine that it was more the fact that I developed a more mature attitude, and life experience. I loved my 30s. That was my favorite decade. I felt grown up, I was raising a family, I weathered a divorce when I was 33, single parenthood, and a subsequent 2nd marriage and 2nd divorce by the time I was 41.
It feels like someone snapped their fingers and I was 30. Then they snapped them again and I am 55. My parents are in their 80s and beginning to slow down, beginning to show signs of aging that I haven’t seen before. It’s all the cycle of life. But for some reason, I feel it more strongly at this half-decade age. I feel that I am at my strongest ever. I’ve weathered yet another marriage and divorce, and have come to be comfortable in my own skin. I have become comfortable with who and what I am. I am not rich but I have a good job that pays the bills. I make mistakes. I continue to learn. I love to live alone, I enjoy having a roommate for company when I want it, and the ability to shut off when I don’t. I don’t apologize for my solitary life. I rather enjoy it.
Today is my birthday. Today i am 55. I am overweight, out of shape, but happy. I am happy in my life most of the time. I’ve learned to come to terms with my faults and to revel in my choices. I’ve learned to disengage my emotions from others behavior. Am I perfect at it? No. I have good days and bad days, just like everyone else. But I like me. And if you like me, that’s great. If you don’t like me, that’s just fine.
As Popeye says, “I yam what I yam.” Thank you, to anyone out there who still reads my ramblings. I do this for me, and I hope you enjoy it. I’ve barely had time for blogging lately and I may have lost many of my readers. But I do enjoy the opportunity to stretch my literary muscle.
Ta ta for now!