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?

21 comments:

CoachLiz said...

I'm with you! Happy Birthday!

My birthday is Oct. 7th so you are in good company.

CoachLiz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BowserTheCat said...

Happy Birthday. You do say things eloquently! I'll be 52 within 30 days but I also just set a PR in the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 last weekend. I can certainly relate!

Muppetdog said...

Happy birthday! 42 is nothing, still just growing up! (My husband is 44 so I really believe this if he's any example!) You've got many years of fun and PRs to go :)

stronger said...

This post is endearing. Happy 42nd!

TRI TO BE FUNNY said...

Another good thing about 42?? More spankings than a 22 year old. Happy Birthday!

Curly Su said...

Grinning... I don't want the recent music grad salary either... :)

42 ain't so bad. 4x2 is 8 and 8 is a really great number.

See?

Doesn't that make you feel better??

21stCenturyMom said...

Happy Birthday you cranky-old-man-young-athletic-stud-suburban-Dad-wild-and-crazy-guy. According to your post 42 means having it all and having it good and having the fire in the belly to go get some more. Rock on!

ps- sorry about the knuckles but oh well.....

Sarah said...

I love this. Love it. Happy Birthday!! And didn't you know that 42 is the new 22 anyway?

Supalinds said...

Happy Birthday - this is going to be a great year for you! You will be better at 42 than you ever thought possilbe. Cheers my dear friend.

dpc said...

I'm with you, Tri! "Let's do this thing!"

Hit 47 this year and I feel your pain...while at the same time, your contempt for Father Time. Was one of those "central business dudes" a couple of years ago and decided that I didn't want to be a statistic. Now Terra Castro (my coach) is kicking my ass on a daily basis...on my way to not being resigned! =)

Thanks for your entry! My wife and I both enjoy your blog. Happy Birtday! dc

Flatman said...

Best post ever, man...seriously. I am totally wit chya!

SixTwoThree said...

I'm with ya!! Me! Me! Brilliant post :-) Yesterday, my orthopedist asked me how old I was. I told him 47. He retorted, "I'm 50 and I look like your father. I don't feel sorry for you!" I just hope he doesn't go near me with a knife. Happy Birthday guy!!

Fe-lady said...

Love this post! (And Happy Birthday!)

42 means that I am still 13 years older than you, and it was at this age I completed my first IM.

Maybe you are no "silver fox" but possibly a Wolverine?

Fight the whole way. But have fun tearing up what you consider "old age"!

Kim said...

hippity happity birthday my dear gray! smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack smack (42 smacker-a-roos on the butt!)

Bigun said...

with ya? I'm already past ya! You snuck right by me in Scrabble too, young man...

Lana said...

I'm with you Greyhound! And that thing about your daughter growing up...it has nothing to do with you being 42...I'm 32, and the same thing is happening with my little boy who was 4 a few years ago, when I was 25. It's scary, man. What are we going to do?

Lana said...

Actually, come to think of it, perhaps we can just arrange a marriage like they used to do, and we'll tell Superpounce and Briar there's no need for lip gloss or cologne or that stupid dating thing.

jeanne said...

Life begins at 42! cherish every moment. :)

Razorback said...

I quietly read your posts on a regular basis. As a non practicing lawyer i enjoy the posts about barney fife. Amazingly we share the same birthday. I was 41 on Monday. Happy Belated Birthday.

Tiggs said...

Happy Birthday Grey :)

Awesome post! Make the most of every single day!