Monday, October 06, 2008
On Being 42
**READER ADVISORY--I appreciated all the birthday wishes today, but I thought this graph was funny and thought you might as well. But look out. I'm grumpy and whiny and I haven't a right to be. So read on at your own risk. ***
Because I am 42, my hands are hurting as I type this. My running knees and swimming shoulders are fine, but my hands have the same arthritis my mom has, and it's getting to be that time. My knuckles are swollen so that I can't get my wedding ring off (good) or on (bad). I type for a living, so hand pain is to be my lot in life.
Or maybe it was the online Scrabble. I'm not giving that up even if they amputate.
Because I am 42 (and have been doing endurance sports for several years), I can wear my wedding ring when my knuckles aren't too swollen. When I was 35, I couldn't wear it because my fingers were too fat. Now, my fingers are just right, when my knuckles aren't all out of control.
Because I am 42, my life is a bit like the wonderful shortbread cookie I had to top off my lunch today. I know it must have been delicious, because I've had the experience before. But I don't have any memory of eating it. Why don't I remember living it more? Wasn't it good? Didn't I think so at the time? Why didn't I notice the good things when they were happening?
Because I am 42, I notice the doddering, middle aged men in the central business district, with their halting steps, their tentative faces, their resigned-to-life-posture, their flabby bellies, and their man boobs. Statistically, several of them will have a heart attack before this time next year. Several of them will probably die, of that or something else. A couple of them look like they could take a fall. They take cholesterol drugs, blood pressure medication, antidepressants, insulin, and erectile dysfunction medications. They are basically my age. Some don't know that their lives are almost over, and they've spent them in offices, just like mine. This horrifies me.
Because I am 42, the first steps I take in the morning are bent over and painful, and the more in shape I get, the more crippled I seem to feel getting out of bed. Because I am not resigned-to-life, I feel this feeling every morning at 0400 on my way to working out.
Because I am 42, my inner George Clooney wants to be a "silver fox." I'm no six footer, but I'm reasonably trim, somewhat muscular, salt and pepper hair, with a certain "distinguished" look, so I've been told. But then my inner Heathcliff Huxtable reminds me that George is a fantasy, and Heathcliff is reality. I am no silver fox or wild predator. I am domesticated. Indeed, I'm not only domesticated, I'm a Golden Retriever with social anxiety disorder.
But I still crave wildness.
And because I am 42, part of me wishes I was 22, with my 22 year old girlfriend, enjoying a wild freedom that I imagine is the life of my younger friends.
Except I wish I had a 42 year old law partner's pay check, and not that of a recent music graduate. And I also remember that I was already old at 22, sort of Bob Dole without wrinkles. I was cranky and conservative and responsible beyond my years, never closed down the bar, always acted responsibly, always in bed on time, and never hung over for rehearsal.
And I kind of regret it. It seems too late now.
But because I am 42, I see danger in wildness. I have a daughter who's of an age that things are starting to appear in her room that have never appeared before. Cosmetics. Lip gloss. Articles of clothing ostensibly meant to lift or support objects that are not even there yet. And I'm afraid. I'm not ready for this yet. She was 4 yesterday, and I was 35. And I read the Chronicles of Narnia out loud. And I want that back.
But I can't have it.
But because I am 42, I am not sitting still or going quietly. I am going to PR in the marathon in January. And, in April, I am going to ride from Houston to Austin on my bike for the fourth year in a row. And I am going to PR my Ironman triathlon in November 2009. I am going to kick my own 35 year old ass, and stuff any regrets down the throat of Father Time.
Because I am 42, I have some idea how fast this next year can go. And I want to fill it. Who's with me?