It's my birthday today. I'm 46 years old, and if my math is correct I am now closer to 60 than to 30. I find myself with many aches and pains and wobbles that have crept up on me, mostly from kicking myself for thinking I was old at 30 and from an unfortunate ligament-tearing incident at roller derby a couple of weeks ago. The boot prints of time show everywhere - in the age spots forming on my hands (but I'll never give up the sun, so they're here to stay), the stretch marks on my stomach and thighs (but I'll never regret having my babies, though I do regret some of the cake), and the lines on my face (but I'll never regret the laughter, or really even the tears, that put them there).
Neither of my parents lived to be 65 years old. If this genetic legacy continues through me, I have less than 2 decades to go. Statistically, even if I live to the average age for a woman of 81 years, more than half my life is over. This is a staggering thought, because my mind still believes I am 24 and have all the time in the world to fulfill my dreams. I'm convinced this thought is the basis for midlife crisis and urgency to do more, be more, have more that I see every day. The only thing that may keep me alive into very old age is that "only the good die young."
I found a picture of myself the other day from the approximately 25 minutes in 1990 that I could be considered "hot." In that photo, my hair is thick, shiny, and hangs around my shoulders in perfect spiral curls. My cheekbones and collarbones are in evidence, and my smile is the careless smile of a young, pretty girl who takes her prettiness for granted. It's all been downhill from there. At 46, my body is a warning for what will happen if you aren't very, very careful. I worry, at 46, if I can ever reclaim a firm figure or a head of nice hair (which has gone from lovely spiral curls to fright wig in the blink of an eye).
The great upside to getting older is that I truly don't care if people don't like me. The things that made me weird as a kid make me quirky and fun now. And the urgency of knowing I don't have decades left on this earth helps me make much better decisions and prompts me to get things done. Which reminds me, I still have 10,000 words or so left on Cate Book Number Two, which I am sure you're all waiting with bated breath to get your hot little hands on (insert shameless promotion).
I'm going to enjoy today. It started off with a thunderstorm and rain, but I just burrowed under the covers and went back to sleep since it's Saturday. My sons and daughter and fabulous husband all remembered so I don't have to be like Samantha Baker in 16 Candles (though she did score Jake Ryan in the end). And I'll make the most of the fleeting years I have left. Mark my words.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.