Something weird is happening to me as I approach the Big Birthday. I used to laugh off the angst people express about bday numbers… when I turned 40, I didn’t care at all. I looked way younger than my age, felt great, and wasn’t fussed a bit.
But then 50 came around. My big deal about turning 50, or so I told myself, wasn’t the number or how I looked (still okay), but how 50 would be perceived by Other People, namely men. At 50, I was still on dating sites and hoping to find my soul mate. It sounds so ridiculous now, but I was. I knew (because they said so) that men in my age range often cut off their search for women in the upper 40s. Even 60 year old men preferred women in their 40s.
I got extremely sick over the weekend of my 50th birthday. I thought it was because I had some ice cream with liquor that Friday night, but it was only an ounce or so and doesn’t explain throwing up for 24 hours. My daughters were taking care of me and were certain the 2-day sickness was a psychological reaction to turning 50. Nah, I said, that’s silly.
But over time I realized they were correct.
Even before I became a grandma, I began to feel old. Besides receiving dramatically less attention on dating sites, I felt achy and tired, increasingly so, and knew I was rapidly looking older. A few years later, I gave up dating completely, figuring that was the end of worrying about age.
I still think about it ~ a lot. Not because of my failure to find a soul mate but because of the whole retirement and death thing looming. While many people live into their 90s now, lots don’t. My parents didn’t. It’s not unreasonable to believe I may have less than 20 years of natural life left (assuming I don’t die much sooner in a dumb accident). That’s pretty daunting.
The mind works in strange ways. Mine keeps screwing up age-related math. I keep forgetting how long ago the 1980s were. It doesn’t seem right. The other day I posted that 1971 was 40 years ago. Today on FB, I couldn’t do the simplest math to find the number one song on my 21st birthday.
It’s really weird. When I’m not actively stressed about aging, I seem to be floating in a bubble of denial. I think I’m actually pretty upset about my birthday, which I’ve been thinking about a lot more than I want to. Might as well admit it. I do feel old. My body hurts all the time and I no longer look younger than my age.
Hopefully after the day passes I’ll be able to shrug off the number. Not looking for compliments, only mutual commiseration from other oldies.
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