On Thursday, I’ll turn 50. That’s half a century. That’s five full decades. That’s 30 years shy of the end based on life expectancy in the US—80.6 for women—or lights out based on life expectancy in Cameroon.
I’d like to say that 50 is just a number, but honestly I’m wallowing in the digits. Here I am at what’s supposed to be some kind of milestone or an apex with downhill the only direction left to go, but I think I’m still climbing. Life expectancy be damned. Middle age my ass. At 50, I’m working on a major weight adjustment (aiming for less of it), consequently buying new clothes a little at a time, reading books I’ve never read before, stretching my creative muscle with new projects, looking forward to decades more of discovery—inward and outward.
Birthday parties were common in this house when the girls were little, but personally, I have had only one. I was ten years old, and little girls came over for games in the yard and for cake and ice cream, and that’s all I remember about that day. Forty years later, I’m having another one, a party that I believe will be more memorable.
Husband has invited a bunch of friends and my sisters, and we’re going to have a shindig to mark this milestone of mine, this non-apex. We’ll start with carefully selected appetizers as people mill around in and out of the house. Then we’ll be seated poolside for a special meal prepared by a local chef. A bartender will keep the glasses full, the fountain in the pool will create a subtle background and I’m expecting lots of giggles and guffaws as we celebrate the prospect of aging.
I’m not sure what aging gracefully means. The word might suggest different things for women than for men. Maybe your supposed to start dressing like your mother, getting that old-lady perm and sitting with your legs crossed just so. You step back toward the wall while the younger people take the floor. But I don’t buy it. I’m not budging or giving up any ground. This age I’m facing is not going to be the end of anything.
As a reminder to my guests that turning 50 is, if anything, time for more play and not less, we’re all getting place-setting gifts, treat bags full of toys like bubbles with funky bubble wands and noise makers, so we can all make a racket and a mess. And attached to each bag will be a quote I selected for the occasion—there are eight in all. Choose your favorite of them and claim it as your own.
And then go out and take the floor. Make a racket and make a mess.
"Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age." Victor Hugo
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." Henry David Thoreau
"We turn not older with years, but newer every day." Emily Dickinson
"It takes a long time to become young." Pablo Picasso
“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright
“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.” Dr. Seuss
“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr
“The creative adult is the child who has survived.” Ursula K. LeGuin
|Me at age 10. Happy birthday to me.|