Today I mailed in the reply card for Prevention Magazine. Yep, I’m going to subscribe to the magazine that 15 years ago, I thought was for old people.
Somehow I couldn’t resist their direct mail piece. It wasn’t the headlines that got me (“Fight Fat After 40,” “Stop Wrinkles Now”)—well, maybe they got my attention a little bit. It was the woman on the cover. She appeared older than 40 and was definitely winning the battles against fat, with a zestful smile and a body that looked strong enough to kick my ass.
Normally, I would have tossed the junk mail, except that my grandfather, who is 81, is battling lymphoma again, and this has had me thinking of age and life and lots of deep thoughts that keep me up at night.
A few nights ago, I had one of those horrific thoughts that bolted me wide awake: I’m closer to 50 than to 30.
It got me pondering a quote by Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” and wondering if I’m squandering mine. (I had to Google the line to find out who said it, because I’m not a literary genius who quotes poetry. Likely I saw the quote on a refrigerator magnet at some point, which is where most of my poetic wisdom hails from.)
I forget my true age quite a lot and whenever I remember, I get confused and wonder if I’m developing dementia. Obviously I’ve lost years of my life. Being less than a decade from 50 doesn’t seem possible because my mom is 50, isn’t she? Of course, she isn’t. She had me young, but not weird biologically impossible young. My mom will be 62 this year, which means I will be 42 and my grandfather 82—and none of those numbers seems quite right.
I’m by no means the only one grappling with mind versus reality when it comes to aging. Yesterday, as I wasted time on Facebook, I read a comment from a friend, closer to 50 than myself, about how she’s been “obsessing over her face rearranging itself” lately, and she posted a funny story about the topic from Anne Lamott. Shortly, after I read a hilarious blog post by Amy Byrnes called, “1 year, 7 months, 1 day” about dealing with her upcoming 50th.
Much like aging itself, it seems that talking about aging is something inevitable that I can’t hide from. Apparently, I’m hanging out with old people—except they still seem pretty young to me.
The last time I talked this much about age was in my early 20s when it was so irritating to be carded for your beer, which by the way still happens on very rare occasions when I’m fully hydrated, the lighting is dim and there’s a sign that says the establishment cards everyone over 35. Somehow the annoying bartender who couldn’t tell I was obviously of age has turned into the angel of mercy. (More likely, he’s carding me because he thinks it will garner him a bigger tip, which it probably will.)
This got me thinking about my own blog site. It’s supposed to be about this transition from youth into middle-age, and yet I’ve never been able to define this stage in life that I write about. In a conversation with my husband months ago, I asked him what he would call someone like me, someone in this pre-middle–aged phase of life. Without hesitation, he respond, “a M-A-I-D, middle-aged in denial.” Impressively quick comeback but ouch!
I was quick to tell him that he may be middle-aged, but I certainly am not. I don’t care that when I double my age, the figure indicates I am EXACTLY at the projected midpoint of my life, according to the World Health Organization’s for females in the United States (82.2 if you’re wondering).
Despite the evidence that’s piling up in the creases of my face, I still can’t possibly be middle-aged. I have nothing against middle aged people—the label just doesn’t feel right. When I hang out with people in their late 40s, I feel like a spastic teenager with no class who can’t get her shit together. I’d hang out with 20-something, but they are annoying as all hell.
It’s a conundrum. Of course, if I’m not middle-aged, then how did Prevention Magazine trick me into forking over $24?
Sigh. At least I’ll learn how to fight my slowing metabolism and multiplying crow’s feet.