The “Middle” Ages….55

I turned fifty-five last month. I remember going to bed the night before, when I was a young fifty-four, and making a mental note of how I felt. I wanted to remember that feeling throughout the next year so that I could have a basis on which to judge any rogue 55ish feeling that would, more than likely, try to creep in on me in case I might inadvertently leave my guard down. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, every bright light blazing down on my fifty-four year old bare body. I wasn’t going to forget one detail. This was as young as I was ever going to be. I gathered up my courage and took a look at the naked truth. The three, 100 watt vanity lights cast a garish glow down on me and I realized that I was about to be questioned by the “Age Police.”

“How old are you?”

“It’s my last night of being fifty-four.”

“Last night? Last night? Why can’t you go ahead
and round it up to fifty-five? What difference
does a few hours make?”

“Not a lot, I’m sure, but a lady’s got to hold
on to her youth for as long as she possibly
can.”

“You women are all the same! Take a long look,
then. You’ve got a few hours ’til the switch-
over. Believe me, not much is gonna change
after the magic hour of midnight.”

“I was born at 1:57 P.M. in the afternoon!
Technically, I won’t be fifty-five until 1:57
tomorrow afternoon!”

“Alright, Lady. Whatever you say. Fifty-four,
fifty-five…don’t make any difference to me.
Just don’t get all…emotional and stuff.
Nothing I hate worse than a dame who whines
about getting older…Hey, you rolling your
eyes at me? Ain’t my fault time’s caught up
with you. Happens to everybody.”

“Just shut up and give me a few minutes, will
you please? I need to do this by myself, not
with the ’Age Police’ looking over my
shoulder.”

The interrogator shook his head and rolled HIS eyes at me.

“Whatever you say, Lady. We’ll be right
outside the door, if you need us.”

If I need them? Who needs the “Age Police” to remind them of how old they are? They close the bathroom door and leave me alone. The vanity lights become a single spotlight and I stand naked on the stage of my bathroom floor. Just a girl and spotlight…I try to think of the appropriate song for the moment…Frank Sinatra’s “My Way?”

“And now the end is here and so I face the final
curtain…”

No. Totally the wrong song to sing. That was a grand finale song. I wasn’t nearly at that place in life. What about John Mayer’s song, “Stop This Train?”

“Stop this train, I want to get off and
go home again.
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t but honestly,
Won’t someone stop this train?
So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find
A way to say that life has just begun.”

I gasp. The numbers game…The new twenty is now thirty. The new thirty is really forty. The new forty-five is really fifty-five. Was that what I was doing? Playing a numbers game? Why was John Mayer so wise in his lyrics but not so wise in his personal life?

I looked at my body. Fifty-five. It could be worse. Not that bad. Sure, having six children had taken its toll. Each year had left a few scars and a bit of sagging skin, a few achy joints and a head full of gray hair. But wasn’t that what was supposed to happen?

I leaned into the mirror and studied my face. There were lines and wrinkles and a softened jaw line. I couldn’t remember what my old face had looked like…not exactly. Maybe my memory was helping me soften the blow of aging by blurring the lines all together. I stepped back and smiled. My last smile in the mirror at age fifty-four. Would it look like a different smile tomorrow at 1:57 P.M.? No, I believe it would not. Aging was too subtle to switch things up on me that fast. It was inevitable, but thank God, gracious enough to lead me gently into it’s soft, comfortable arms.

I lifted up my arms slowly, stretching upward toward the ceiling and stood on my tiptoes. I twirled around like a ballerina, ending in a deep bow before the mirror.

“Goodbye, fifty-four. You were good to me…
even kind. You brought me great peace and
joy. You were a very good year.”

I stood up, tall and straight. I knew the “Age Police” were outside waiting. Walking up to the mirror, I leaned over the sink and lightly kissed my reflection in a final farewell gesture.

“You guys can come in now. I’m ready.”

In a flash, the door opened and they were there.

“So…you’ve said your good-byes, now?”

“Yeah. You didn’t give me long. It seems like
you come earlier and earlier each year.
What’s the deal with that?

“You know why, lady. The older you get, the
faster time flies.”

How well I knew that! I pulled my night gown over my head and looked the “Age Police” directly in the eye.

“Let’s go.”

I opened the bathroom door and let him escort me to my bed, a few steps away.

“Will you do me a favor and tuck me in tonight?
I’m a bit tired from the mental process of
moving into another year. Don’t you think I’m
getting better at it? I’m learning to
gracefully give up one year and go peacefully
into the next one. Haven’t you noticed? Come
on, guys, sometimes, I just wish you would
tell me if I’m doing it right. If I’m aging
properly.”

The two gruff officers looked at each other and shrugged.

“Sure, lady. Hop up…”

I got into my big bed and sank deep into my soft mattress and pillow. The “Age Police” took my cloud-like comforter and brought it up over my shoulders.

“Now, you know we’re going to go ahead and
take fifty-four with us and leave you with
fifty-five. Are you ready for that?”

“Yes. Go ahead. It doesn’t matter anyway…
I really don’t have any say-so in the matter.”

“No, lady, you don’t. But you’re doing good.
Some ladies cry, kick and scream when they see
us coming. You’re really graceful about it.
You seem to take it in stride.”

“Really? Thanks. I mean. Wow! You just
made this all a bit easier for me to handle.”

“It’s just part of our job, lady. But, hey,
thanks for the gratitude. We don’t get that
often.

“No. I’m sure you don’t. And I can’t promise
it every year, but I’ll try.”

I peeked out from under the covers and they were gone. I don’t know how it happened again, but they had left me one year older. I thought about kicking and screaming, but it was already a done deal. I yawned and turned over, shutting my eyes. Tomorrow I would wake up to fifty-five.

I heard a train whistle blowing in the distance and I could swear I felt the gentle motion of a passenger train rocking me to sleep as it marked the time in railroad ties. I drifted off to sleep thinking, “I wish this train would stop.” But I knew I was a lifetime passenger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YRl54zq_2M

 

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gina Cova
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 15:44:55

    I loved this one. I just turned 54 this past Friday. I hope I go as gracefully into the next half of my life as you are. God told me once that I would live to be 103 &3/4 so I have started my second half already. Hope I do better with this half than I did with the first half.. Have a great day. Keep the updates coming.

    Reply

    • themuseinme
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:01:43

      Thanks, Gina. I’m sure your second half is going to be so much better! Sometimes I think that kicking and screaming as we approach each year ages us even more! I’m just trying to stay calm. On the inside I’m still 20!

      Reply

  2. Dana Adams
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 00:02:38

    Donna,

    For another year & 6 kids, you look pretty darn good! And your hair looks blonde, not gray! 🙂

    Love,
    Dana

    Reply

  3. Vance Alford
    Mar 08, 2012 @ 22:26:13

    Donna, I was so moved and impressed with your writing that I had to read the entire blog. I can relate to so much of what you write– after all, I spent 1/2 my teenage days in your house with Scott. I will visit here often with great anticipation. Thank you!

    Reply

    • themuseinme
      Mar 08, 2012 @ 23:33:27

      Thanks, Vance! You’ve encouraged me! Yes, you did spend a lot of time at our house growing up! Hope all is well with you. Thanks for reading the blog!

      Reply

  4. Alison Bruce (@alisonebruce)
    Apr 17, 2012 @ 02:42:26

    I love the age police. What an image! Sometimes I wish the passage of time would slow down a bit. I remember when I was so young time seemed slow as mollases. Now it’s as fast as spilt milk. I do have one consolation, however. You’ll always be a year older than me, Donna. Thanks for that.

    Reply

    • themuseinme
      Apr 17, 2012 @ 02:58:43

      Alison, it’s always comforting to know that there will always be someone “out there” who will always be older than you! It is a delicious feeling, isn’t it? But if we ever meet and there’s only room for one of us to have a seat, you must defer to me, your elder and give the seat to me! LOL! Thanks so much for reading!

      Reply

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