Category Archives: Acceptance

Finding 40: I Am Not A Young People

At some point, every person looks to the left and the right of the number line and plots their current position. Some feel there is much more life to live. Others are tired and ready to go home. Then there are those right in the middle–their minds squatting on the left of the line. 

That was me. I was a squatter. I lived in a house my name wasn’t on, and I had no idea when the Sheriff would come knocking to evict me. I can only imagine all of my things strewn across the lawn, about 90% of them sensible cardigans and flats. The other 10% packed haphazardly in a too-large tote bag parading as a purse. When did that happen? Where are my heels? Where are my ripped jeans and short skirts? I would look at the lawn in shock.

He/She would tell me I don’t belong or have worn out my welcome. “This place,” the Sheriff would say, padlocking the door, “doesn’t belong to you, Miss. It is time to move along.” I would stand there, too shocked to cry. Move along? But to where I scream clearly in crisis. Where?! Shrugging, he/she would say, “Back to 40, ma’am.”

TBH, I have been super lost these last 3 years. Actually, downright depressed. At one point, I was drowning myself in Nothing Bundt Cake and murder porn, but after about the fifth time seeing the same girl at the bakery, I realized the lack of eye contact wasn’t because she was shy. She recognized drowning when she saw it….a sad and sorry at that.

I didn’t think it would happen to me, you know? Mid-life what? Please. I know me. I love me. I’m good. But after 3 years of new aches, exhaustion, and loathing the thought of one more dish/menu plan/bill to pay/person, I realized mid-life was creeping and dying salt and pepper hair purple wasn’t going to fix it.

I thought quitting my job would help. The purple hair might have been a good step, albeit apparently dying gray hair is not recommended (le sigh).  Moving to another state was an option. Being a beach bum and seeking the real meaning of life was a thing. I even bought a pair of shorts, but the thought of anything without elastic is torture, soooo…nope. I spent hundreds of dollars in Ulta on creams, scrubs, conditioners, and face paint, but I didn’t find much under that rock either. The only thing changing was my age…and my attitude. Well…and perhaps my chin hair (I now have 3 gray ones–Yay).

God probably got tired of the ambling and ridiculousness, so He shut it down, locked it down. “Cut it out,” He said as I stood at the table, burning from everywhere. Apparently, no one else was hot (le sigh…again). There were signs of 40 along the way–the radio dial staying on classic R&B stations and then morphing into talk radio, always finding the words “back when I was…” or “you young people…” or (the worst yet) “this is music?” spilling out of my mouth with ease, and, daggumit…not being able to read small letters (pill bottles are the devil). But staring at my amused GYN, praying His “cut it out” moment wasn’t what I thought it was, shake her head and say, “Yea…it sounds like you are starting the next phase, girl,” cemented it. F$&#.

I came to terms with it, along with all the other stuff. My hair would stay gray, one margarita was enough, and the aches were what they were. Slowly but surely, I came to 43, even if a part of me was still hanging on to 23. I sat at the table and watched as the 19-year-old turned 20–thin, beautiful, vibrant–laughed and joked with the other 20-somethings in their far-off land just feet away.  This place, I thought, looking around at the restaurant of the new 20-something’s choice, is for young people…and I am not a young people.

For the last 1,000 days (give or take) I have been searching for 40. I have been searching for a sort of elegant wisdom–an Oprah ah-ha moment if you will. It came slowly. It came with hot flashes and a crotchety attitude (‘Mommy, can you not make your eyebrows look mad?’). It came with stubborn gray chin hair and a little cellulite. It came with itchy c-section scars and blurry sight. It came, sitting at the end of a table practically on fire, mixing raw meats and thinking more of salmonella and catching on fire and less of the adventure. It came without bows, boxes, or bags. 40 came…I found it.

I gathered my sensible dresses and cardigans off the lawn, folded them neatly, swung my too large tote purse over my shoulder, and moved along. Maybe now that I have found 40, I can settle in and start having some fun. Skinny dipping, anyone?

Whatever Happens, Love That

“…you need a mantra…Whatever happens, love that…”

~Match Making for Beginners

 

For a few weeks now, the thought of settling into mediocracy has become more appealing. Even hamsters get off the wheel sometimes. The barrage of ideas, plans and what-ifs can make a person weary in their well-doing.

I have been wrestling with mediocracy. I tell myself I just simply cannot be ordinary or I must dream big, but really…do I? What if all we were ever meant to be is exactly what we are? Not everyone was built to be an Oprah or a Michelle O or a Bey. Some of us are just meant to be exactly what we are, and that is okay.

We are taught from a very young age through various channels we should go beyond where we are. If you are fat, be skinny. If you are as flat as a teenage boy, buy body parts. If you are poor, get rich. If you are uncoupled, be coupled. In the years between vanilla life acknowledgment and the colorful just out of reach, we claw our way up. But should we though? Think of all the energy wasted on trying to be something not meant for you. Was it worth it?

Last night I watched a group of young men and women sing and dance. They were all amazing. The courage to stand in a crowded room and leave their talent spent on stage was beautiful to see. Afterward, I thought about what would happen to them in the next ten to fifteen years. How many of them would ignore the present and fight to get a toe onto the promise land? How many would be still be talking about making it when really they have already made it? How many would be satisfied with church on Sundays, meatloaf on Wednesdays, and a 9 to 5? My guess…hardly any.

They have been taught to pursue dreams and strive to get from their present point A to the magnificent point B. And that is not entirely wrong. We should dream, but we shouldn’t ignore the regular. And we shouldn’t abhor staying there (some of us). Some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing lived normal lives. They paid their bills on time, punched a clock every day, loved others and were as full as a person traveling the world with millions in the bank. Who says greater is better? Shouldn’t it be more about loving what comes your way than trying to climb over it for the unknown? What if what is right in front of you is all you are ever going to have? Is it worth missing?

As I start the descent to cuarenta, I am coming to terms with vanilla. Whatever comes my way will just come. I am no longer in need to push the mountains. There is nothing wrong with setting up camp at the foot. I will sit there, outside the tent watching all those who dare to push or climb. I will gladly offer water to the thirsty and nourishment to the hungry. The homemade of flimsy canvas and dirt floor will offer rest to the weary. I will offer a smile and perhaps even a word of wisdom. I will be the cheer squad for those who need it. I am waving the white flag and surrendering to taking it down a notch. Finally, after all this time, I will accept what is present. I will not overlook it for the sake of something better. What I have right this moment is enough. And whatever happens…I am going to love that.

~SM

Settling Into Oldish

Whenever I would tease Mommy about getting older, she would smile and say she was happier to be getting older. At twenty years her junior, I could not understand. Older meant things were falling apart and wrinkles. Older meant menopause and drooping everything. Old age meant walkers and medicines. Why be happy about that? Seventy-four days away from the big four-oh, I think I get it.

As you age, you settle more into yourself. The tightly wound ball of confusion that once was you at twenty is now settled and relaxed at fifty. She was excited about the relaxing part. The settling. I get it.

Now that it is my turn for ribbing from youngins, I find myself thinking about Mommy. She hasn’t quite embraced the housecoat (with the snap buttons, ‘member those?) but she has settled in. She isn’t wearing weaves and lashes, but upon suggestion (from The Boy) she will listen to a little Chief Keef. She often proclaims her ‘too old for [insert foolishness here]’ motto and leaves it where they land, but she can entertain an in house Nerf gun fight foolishness, too. She is where she is and that is okay. As I slide into another year, another grey I find myself working toward okay as well.

I’m is what I’m is, all greys and droopy whatever. It takes a minute to remember things and I can’t handle too much nonsense (my patience is -5). I own a housecoat with snap buttons and side pockets. I listen to Young Thug religiously and I live to binge watch Riverdale. Yes, I know what Bitcoin is but I also remember when pay phones were a thing and they took actual coins. I groan when walking up/down stairs, and I swear when it rains my bones hurt. But as I come ’round the mountain, I am quite all right with all of it. With every year I am blessed enough to see, more wisdom and more comfort are settling in. Thank God.

~SM