I am going to start this post by saying that some days I am so effin tired of being 40-something. I know this is a time when the nation is drowning in flood waters, contemplating the creation of fallout shelters, and watching our hero in chief stare directly at a solar eclipse, long enough to have photos taken of him pointing at the effin sun. But today, I need to discuss some personal stuff cause I have had it up to here.
It’s just that kind of day. A day for bourbon and profanity. On the rocks with a little ginger, damn it.
I have read all kinds of articles about 40 being the new 30 and all that Hollywood Hallmark stuff. In some ways, I will say, this decade has proven to be golden. One cares so much less about seeking approval. One only has time for folks who are fellow tribe members or for those who can make fun of Pinterest. One doesn’t need to sew Halloween costumes or paint Pokemon in frosting on birthday cakes. Cause, why?
In recent months, however, it keeps occurring to me more and more how many darker aspects lie beneath the surface of this supposedly amazing time of life. And here are some of them:
- A slowing metabolism
- The inevitability of bifocals
- The actual need for a mole doctor
- Annual mammograms – what’s the opposite of yowza!?
- The fact your 20-year-old students don’t get your references to Back to the Future or Tina Turner pop songs
- It’s mostly just men in their 50’s and 60’s who eye you in the produce section (no offense to anyone)
- The ability to see through so much shit (although at first positive, over time this lessens faith in your fellow humans)
- There really is no sense of style – clothes often feel too young or too old
- Certain parts of the body are in constant revolt – leaving you with chronic pain of one kind or another
- And the last one. The worst one. Aging parents.
So it took me a minute to get to the most important one. Maybe you are 40-something too and you were waiting for this one. Or perhaps you were taken off guard thinking this piece was simply humorous. If the latter is true for you, I apologize.
You see, there is so much great stuff about aging, but it’s complicated and tarnished by the fact that your parents are aging too. While you might be in the relative prime of your life, despite resenting there isn’t one retail store that gets you, every so often, there’s another call about some doctor’s diagnosis. Then, there’s dread and doom and gloom. A long period of Purgatory, where you know nothing and feel numb to any possible outcome. Then, there’s the relief stage, when you’re thanking God for her many blessings.
Until, another effin call comes. It’s only a matter of time, you see. This time, it could be about the same very person who was declared cancer free. It feels endless, a constant grind of conflicting emotions that one has to hold inside one very small body (I mean, maybe not as small as it was ten years ago, but…).
So right now, I am telling 44 to go screw herself. She is the easiest target and is used to the manic-depressive person dragging her like a rag doll one minute and squeezing her with affection the next.
How can so much great discovery about oneself be accompanied with so many constant reminders that life is going to end? Not only that, but that you will be parent-less one day, and that one day was never supposed to come this soon. There needs to be more time. More time for Thanksgiving pie, for beachside sand castle creations, for shared laughter and political discussions, rants, and arguments. There needs to be “more,” as the late Amy Rosenthal says in her heartbreaking essay You May Want to Marry My Husband.
Can I just have more? More time before I get to the dog-eared pages of my book, the ones that I am unaware of, but are coming. The chapters that will arrive when there is no “more” with those people whom I love. When I will have to redefine the word as I know it and fill in those future chapters without it.