Birthdays

Well, I have had a birthday since I last checked in here. I am not going to say which birthday, because I have gone from a policy of scrupulous and even unaskedfor honesty on the subject of age to feeling that a little gentle obfuscation is just expected of a genteel lady like myself and besides, damned if I’m admitting it anymore. I am old, but not as old as I will be in ten years. Anyway, it was a perfectly lovely birthday. I went out for a couple drinks the night before with my friends Jodi and Meg and was annoyed by my daughter’s constant reminder that I shouldn’t get TOO drunk because we HAD to go to brunch the next day. I kind of wanted to throw down, too, because I am after all always turning 21 in my head. But there was no throwing down, so I woke up early on my birthday and betook myself to the herb fair, one of my favorite annual events. Then I went off with Audrey to the Southern for brunch, expecting only to see my son and his girlfriend but LO while they were there so was a big crowd of my friends and they all yelled SURPRISE and I was, in fact, totally surprised. So that was absolutely wonderful – I had never had a surprise party before and I always wanted one – and they gave me presents and we all drank bloodies and had a lovely time. Afterwards Audrey and I went shopping at the Dillards clearance center, where all the shoes are sparkly and have 6″ heels and eventually we went to the DeSoto and then that was Sunday and it was over and yay, birthdays.

Naturally, it did make me think about aging again. Ha ha! As if I ever think about much else. I am reminded of this cartoon / greeting card / cute drawing on the internet type thing that I saw somewhere, sometime but have never been able to find again, wherein the text is more or less “With age comes wisdom. Wisdom weighs about forty pounds.” LOL, as the kidz say. I have the forty pounds, plus some, gods know, but I am not so sure about the wisdom. The thing is, I feel exactly the same as I have for, oh, about twenty years now. Since I was in my late 20s, I guess, or somewhere in there. You know how they say that potheads and/or general addicts never grow up because their development stops at their first joint?* Apparently something like that happens right around your Saturn return  (It’s a hippie astrology thing.**) and then, bam, that’s it, you’re set, you are who you are. And things stay that way for quite some time and you just kind of go along until one day you wake up and blammo, you feel emotionally the same, you think the same, but damned if you look or feel physically the same. It’s like a cruel joke, like, wait, where did my body go and who replaced it with this one? I want the old one back – granted, not enough to work out or eat less or anything, but back regardless. I would also like my memory back, because it’s gone all haywire lately as well, and my ability to drink like a fish and still function like a primate.

One of the side effects of this aging surprise is that I can’t tell how old anybody is anymore. Seriously, I have no idea. I tend to think people in their thirties or maybe early forties are about my age and I am shocked when I discover that I am, if not old enough to be their parent, at least old enough to have been their babysitter and/or refused to let them play on the grounds that they were stupid babies. I am even old enough to be some people’s parent, and these are people who I enjoy hanging out with – like, people, not children. That is disconcerting as is the fact that old people still look, well, old to me. But they are quite probably my peers and I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around that. But there you have it and meanwhile, the whole shoulder thing *** feels like a wake up call from old age. I don’t want to wake up and be old, thank you, but yeah, I know, I have no choice. I am trying to embrace it.

I am trying, this year, to embrace all the stuff that drives me crazy instead of letting it drive me crazy. Thus I adore that I am old and wise, am grateful that I can give my children a roof over their heads and the opportunity to spend all their money on beer and treasure the chance to wake up at 3 am and stop a dog barking. Given that, I should probably not have managed just now to get as pissed off as I did at a fancy little store on Haywood Road that sells, basically, nothing but overprice mason jars but I did. So I’m having some wine and writing this. “You’re revenge drinking?” said my son incredulously, “Who does that help?”

Me. Old, petulant me, who is not thrilled by the new West Asheville and thinks that if you are running a trendy expensive little store you should make an attempt to say hello and be pleasant, even if it is to aged crones who obviously have no money. On the flip side, said aged crone should probably not launch into a small tirade about the evils of gentrification. Even if it is kind of fun. I think I will go yell at a cloud or a chair now.

* Hi! I’m 15! I think that’s OK with me! Granted I was kind of a neurotic mess when I was 15 but I’m still kind of a neurotic mess and at least then I hadn’t yet gained the forty pounds of wisdom.

** The hippies, or at least the astrological community subset of same, say that when the planet Saturn returns to the place it was at your birth, you will experience big old enormous life changes and that these returns mark the seasons of a person’s life. Saturn’s orbit is roughly 28 years and so every 28 years you can expect a crisis and things will be different. Yeah.

*** My shoulder still hurts but it is getting better! I can tell! It hurts in a different way now and nowhere near as acutely as it did before. Granted, spending three or four hours digging up the garden this morning probably wasn’t all that good for it but fuck it, the vegetable garden at least is just about done, whoo hoo. And a guy stopped to ask me questions about my garden and my raised beds and was all nice and complimentary and I would be sort of fluttery about this except that he kept his left hand in his pocket the entire time we talked and my 40 pounds of wisdom knows that is often a Sign. A Sign of Wedding Ring, yes. Also I couldn’t tell how old he was. Also I think he was most likely just interested in my garden and not in me. I wish somebody would be interested in me because, jesus, as noted above I am not getting any younger and honey it has been a WHILE, but, well, what with the wisdom and all, men’s glances tend to slide right over me nowadays like I am invisible. If I am in fact invisible I’m planning to go smuggle a ton of drugs and become rich but I don’t trust it quite enough. Yet.

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One Response to Birthdays

  1. Helen Sutherland says:

    I loved reading this, and glad we were a part of your surprise. Remembering the slogan, With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone. ha!

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