The Best of Times - Growing Up and Liking it

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…..”

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Nothing like a little Chuck Dick to get your brain pumping and ready for some deep thinking. Personally, I didn't used to big fan of the story this quote comes from, because it’s really fucking sad. I mean cry big, fat tears and let out a wail that comes from your toes sad. But I am now, because I've lived some life since I was forced to read it in high school, so now I get it. Teenagers often hate to read the classics for just this reason. The powerless, hopelessness, sickness and despair is difficult for them to understand partially because they have no context for it, but also because they are in the phase of life where they are feeling invincible! I remember it well.

I also remember the moment I came to understand and come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t invulnerable. I guess that’s why as adults, we sometimes crack open the depressing and dark classics we groaned about in our youth. Because with new understand about life and years of experience, we can see the beauty in the sadness, and find courage we never knew we had as we identify with the struggles of the characters, and learn from their stories.

At some point, we grow into people who find meaning in the weighty words of writers like Charles Dickens whose stories continue to be sources of inspiration and insight for all who read them.

So why am I waxing philosophical and getting profound on you this fine Sunday morning? Well, because the funniest thing happened to my friends and I last night while we were out celebrating the best of times –a birthday! My entire crew of girlfriends is over 40 now and we were all working it in all different ways last night.

Me? I was wearing this bitchin’ sweater and pair of jeans I found at the Goodwill Store in Lemont and my son’s Chuck Taylor shoes. Now granted, the sweater has a little hole in the armpit, but I figured that I’d be keeping my arms down so who would know? I was dressed down as usual, but still I looked very much like a middle age mom.

Unlike me, my girlfriends were all looking fashionable and made up, wearing trendy clothing and shoes that made them look classy and elegant. Perfect for a night out for dinner and dancing. But they too looked like what they are, middle age moms. Fashionable middle aged moms, but even if we were all rocking Botox and micro-mini’s, not one of us could pass for anything under 35, and really people would just have thought we were hookers if we even attempted to dress like we were in our 20’s.

But it’s not the worst of times for us, not being able to find a wrinkle free spot on our faces or rock skinny jeans. What might scare the shit out of the shiny young kids, is something my friends and I are starting to crave – a life well lived.

Last night was no different than any other night out celebrating really, the plan was to scarf up some grub, have margaritas and maybe swing by a bar that had a DJ to do a little dancing. Maybe turned into totally and although I didn’t want to bust any moves, I let myself be dragged out to the dance floor.

We shared the dance floor with gorgeous young girls whose flawless, wrinkle free skin glowed in the light. Most of them were wearing tight mini-skirts, wedge shoes and way too much make up. They were dancing carefully and if I may say so, conservatively, and I’m guessing they didn’t want to bust out of the painted on clothing they were wearing or spill their $10 fru fru drinks. They didn’t seem to be having half the fun that my girlfriends and I were, because they were too concerned about how they looked and what guys were checking them out. Me and my friends? Well, we were dancing like nobody was watching, even though people were. And laughing.

“Um…Nic, you have a hole in your sweater.” A friend of mine informed me when I was waving my hands in the air like I just didn’t care.

DAMMIT, was my first thought, I should have kept my arms down, but then I was thinking, fuck it, I gotta keep on waving my hands in the air like I just don’t care because I really didn’t care. I was having so much FUN! We were all giggling and having a blast. The old farts and the young things, dancing together on the dance floor, the obvious contrast was impossible to ignore. The young girls were laughing and dancing with us, loosening up bit by bit as they worked their way into our circle.

I was thinking how funny it was when a particularly stunning young thing watching us old bats having fun pulled my friend Lisa aside and said, “You guys are just so awesome and fun and cute. And you remind me so much of my best friend. MY MOM!”

And that’s when the light crashed with the dark; the best with the worst, the foolish with the wise and the laughter and tears began to flow.

We all burst out laughing. Choking really, and struggling to breathe with tears rolling down our cheeks. Cute? She was calling us cute? And the poor thing was suddenly confused, looking like a baby kitty with her head cocked to the side. She couldn’t figure out what had us rolling, so we told her.

Yeah, a bunch of middle aged moms being told how adorable and fun we seemed, doing our thing amidst the barely out of Underoos crowd. Each of us “cute moms” were old enough to be the mom of this girl and her friends, all of who just couldn’t get over how endearing it was to watch the old ladies sing along to songs from “Thriller.” We got such a kick out of it, but the young girl didn’t. She kept trying to apologize, thinking she had offended us in some way. She though that we took her words as an insult, but we didn’t!

Her words actually enlightened us and made us feel more beautiful than any of us had felt in a long time. Our laughter, fun and friendship made us beautiful. Our laugh lines, love handles and uninhibited dance moves and decades of friendship were making this girl smile and reminded her of the woman who had raised her, the woman she called her best friend.

Best compliment ever.

But of course we had to give her shit. Eventually she came around and understood that we were not a bit offended or angry about what she had said, we embraced her and kept on grooving. After all, we didn’t have much time before our old bones got tired and we needed to get home to bed. As we left the dance floor, still laughing, we looked back at the group of fresh faced, especially the sweet girl who compared us to her mom.

“I hope she doesn’t get the clap,” one of us giggled.

“Or Herpes!” someone else said.

“Or PREGNANT,” said another.

But we looked at each other and were thinking the same thing as we went to get our coats and head home to our families. The mom in each of us hopes that someday she will be that lucky. That she will get pregnant and have a baby to love and raise, that she will grow into a woman of character surrounded by strong friendships, confident enough to leave the house for a mom’s night out and dance her ass off amidst the chaos and innocence of youth.

Yeah, I hope that for her. I hope that she finds the balance between dark and light, wisdom and foolishness. I hope that she feels hopeful, seeing everything that lies ahead of her as an adventure even when she has no idea how she will get through the tough times.

And for god sake I hope she keeps rocking those mini skirts for as long as she can, even though the mom in me was really concerned that she was going to catch her death of cold.

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