Another year has passed. Weren’t we just here?
The “Happy Birthday” posts from friends near and far. The obligatory Hallmark card. The feeling I should be doing something more celebratory than having blueberry pancakes, something I treat myself to only on my birthday.
Because, you know, carbs…
I have reached that age when eating carbs is reserved for a special occasion.
I believe I have officially entered the Age of Old.
But there’s the Age of Old and then the Admitting of One’s Admittance to the Age of Old.
I’m here, embracing it, mostly because stretching my arms that way works out the knots in my shoulders from fighting gravity and carrying a purse on one arm that has 26 lbs. of necessities inside. A wallet with discount and membership cards because I’m too old to figure out how to add them digitally to my phone. Concealer. Advil. Snacks. I pack for the apocalypse. I am old enough to know myself well and I get hangry when I get hungry.
My bio describes me as a “veteran” of my industry. I’m “experienced” in my field or, as some put it, “seasoned,” which makes me sound like a piece of meat. I’ve marinated so long, I should be flavorful, but sometimes I fear the extra time on the grill has just made me tough.
Maybe you can relate. I don’t know, can you? When was the last time you got carded?
I was once asked for I.D. buying beer at the supermarket. I smiled and gleefully showed I was 21 more than twice over. I thanked the check-out clerk for thinking otherwise.
“I have to card everyone who looks under 70, ma’am,” he replied.
Damn. Don’t kill my vibe. And don’t call me ma’am.
Earlier this year I supervised a young production staff. Young enough to have been born the year I graduated college. One day we talked about our first concerts. I had to explain who Squeeze was.
You do remember Squeeze, don’t you? Tempted by the fruit of another?
Sometimes I hear my mother’s words coming out of my mouth. Like when my kids leave the house. Aren’t you going to take a jacket? It’s November for god’s sake, you’ll need a jacket.
Or when they go to the movies, I insist they bring a sweatshirt. Because you never know, it might be cold in there. Isn’t it better to be prepared? Just in case.
I notice things I never noticed before in a more observant and appreciative but decidedly old manner. Like when I’m driving. I see a tree. It’s a really nice tree, sturdy and strong, with light filtering through its fall foliage just so.
And, so, I say, “Wow, look at that tree. That’s a nice tree.”
And the youngsters in the back seat don’t acknowledge the nice tree. They are plugged into their devices so they have an excuse to ignore me. I can blast my Sirius XM ’80s on 8 without bother. I’ve declared ‘Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto’ the worst song of my teenage decade, but it was close.
I am, according to my teen daughter, really “weird.” I ask what makes me weird so I can stop being weird. She says it’s because when she has friends over, I talk to them.
To be clear, I say such weird things to her friends as, “Hello.” And “How are you?” And “Would you like some more pizza?”
Apparently old people are weird without knowing it. And I think it would be weird to not say hello and how are you and offer more pizza. So I will keep being weird.
My birthday comes right after Daylight Saving time when it starts getting dark at 4:50 pm and feels like midnight by 8. That gives me a better excuse to have dinner at 5:15 and be in bed by 7:30. Sometimes I look at the clock and see it’s only 6:20 and feel disappointed because if I go to sleep at that time, I’ll be up at 2:30 am and ready for breakfast by 3…
Early mornings at the gym are filled with plenty of women and men my age. We warm up to a cacophony of creaks, cracks, rattles, and pops. It’s our bodies communicating in code. The code says old.
That is, of course, when I go to the gym. I’m at that age when I can do whatever I want. Like scowl at the neighbor’s kid when he cuts across my lawn.
But my favorite Getting Older musing is from a girls’ weekend getaway not too long ago. We were four women of similar age gathered for our first night at a beer garden. There was no waiter service so I went inside the bar to order our first round of drinks.
“I can’t serve you four drinks,” the bartender told me. “I need to see everyone’s I.D.s”
I showed him mine and asked if he needed me to collect the other I.D.s or did he need to see the actual people themselves?
“We’re out in the garden,” I explained. “We’re a bunch of women in our forties,” I added, trying to be helpful.
He returned a minute later with all four drinks.
“Do you still need to see our I.D.s?” I asked, confused.
“Don’t bother,” he replied, having been influenced by my explanation. “I believe you.”
Because, apparently, no one would make that shit up.
I figure it’s OK though. The positive part of having “been there, done that” so many times over is that I no longer concern myself with many of the things that used to set me off, tick me off or trip me up with worry.
You don’t like me? Oh well, in the words of that awesome ’80s Patty Smyth song, “Goodbye to You.”
Get off my lawn. But as you go, take a look at the nice tree down the block.
And don’t forget to bring a jacket, it’s cold out.
Valerie Gordon is a former award-winning television producer, a lifelong storyteller, and the founder of The Storytelling Strategist, a career and communications strategy firm. She’s the author of “Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life” which is for readers young and old. But mostly old.