Last week while on a sales call my customer was expressing her disdain at "nearly turning 33". I laughed and I said "Ha! I only wish I were turning 33, I'm about to turn 55". After telling me I looked fabulous (of course) she posed the question "So, how do you feel about that?" Hmmmm, how do I feel about that you ask? Well, let me tell you.
I feel as though yesterday I was a carefree sixteen year old that just got her driver's license and that somehow all these years in between could not possibly have gone this fast.
I feel when I look in the mirror that the reflection is different but in my mind, I am still that sixteen year old girl. Just because my birth certificate says I'm "almost 55", almost the double nickel, almost the age where I can order off some senior's menus, doesn't mean I feel it. Not all the time anyway.
I feel it when I try to do things that my body says I can't do anymore. I felt it this summer when I was more than just a little thrilled at the chance to play on the Chicagonow softball team and despite a healthy start, my hip decided my budding career was over.
I feel that the older I get, my mind and my body grow further apart. My mind never stops telling me I can do things; my body argues viciously. At sixteen I had the highest kicks on the pom pon squad, at 55 I'm lucky to lift my leg.
I feel like a pedophile/pervert. I look longingly at young men like Danell Leyva, the US Olympic gymnast and I have to shake myself and remember that I am no longer a young girl and this feels downright innapropriate. My friend, fellow blogger Mary Tyler Mom says I am a "cougar with good taste". I like that so much better.
I feel sad when I have to accept that the older I get, the older my parents and other relatives have grown. When my mom passed away three years ago, you can bet I felt like a five year old little girl wishing for her mommy. My Dad is about to turn 80, a number I embrace as he is still here yet I can barely grasp how fast it arrived.
I feel angry when I start counting the years I may have left. Of course when I was sixteen I knew that barring any unforeseen accidents or health issues, I could have a good 70 + years. Now? I pray for 30. Please.
On the upside, I feel that at sixteen I knew so very little. Maybe the phrase "ignorance is bliss" is true. What I didn't know didn't hurt me. Now I can at the very least, protect myself against being hurt. I know how to put the walls up; how to eliminate negativity in my life.
I feel tremendous gratitude that I not only was able to have children, but have been blessed to watch them grow into two fine, young women. I feel sadness that the years that they were little flew by faster than the speed of light. I can still only imagine them in their diapers, or on their first day of kindergarten. I feel strange that for the first time in 18 years I am not sending a child off to school.
I feel that the true meaning of friendship has changed as I have aged. When I was sixteen, I was friends with so many. Even at 20-25 I had a lot of friends. Now, I have many acquaintances and a very, select few people that I can actually call friends. I learned in good and bad ways who my friends really are. It took years to gain this knowledge.
I feel fear that we just bought our dream house but that at our ages, what if one of us becomes ill? We aren't in our early 30's like when we bought our first home. We were just beginning our lives and having children. We didn't worry about such things.
I feel the deepest gratitude that I was spared from cancer. The longer I've been around, the more people I have seen succumb to this unconquerable disease. I hope in my lifetimes that I see a cure.
I feel that while I have many regrets career wise, there is nothing I can do about the past. I can't change a single thing that is done. I can't change dropping out of college. I can't change not pursuing a career in fashion or journalism that I had dreamed of having. But I do feel that the future will always belong to me as long as it's there. I can finish school. I can write a book. I can, I can, I can. I can believe in myself for at my age, I know who I am pretty well.
Tomorrow morning I will wake up (God willing as all Jews like to say) and I will be another day closer to 55. Before I blink, and if I'm very lucky I will wake up and be 75; 85. I'll have grandkids (God willing again!) and with perseverance and luck, I will achieve many more things and feel satisfied where I end up when I'm nearing the finish line.
Make no mistake, my life has been a gift. I am blessed in many, many ways. Ways I would not yet realize when I was that young girl of sixteen. But as I age, I find myself gripping my memories like a vise.
So, I was asked how I feel. This is it. The blessing of all of this?
I can feel.