I’ve never been good with time, so when I was turning 57 and I told my best friend I was turning 60, she corrected me – I still had three years to go. For a moment I felt like I won the lottery, but the truth was, I had won the lottery years before, because my body had rejected all the ways doctors defined time.
I was alive.
Math is sometimes one of my superpowers, but time is not.
To know your true age, and appreciate it, you have to let go of your construct of time and embrace every age you have ever and never been.
After age 40, whenever anyone asked my daughter my age, she said I was forty. For some reason I was frozen in time for her, when she was eight years old, the year she fell out of our tree house and hurt her shoulder.
If I’m honest, for years and years my own mother seemed to be forty, and then she magically seemed to be sixty-five and forgetting all our names, like she went into a time machine on fast forward and lost all her words.
A few years ago, at age 58, I was headed into a yoga class, a woman in a retail store mentioned us being the same age. I never can tell anyone’s age and I told her I would never guess.
She said she was seventy-two. She thought we looked great for our age.
I looked in the mirror long and hard that night, which I rarely do – to pluck, to brush, to tweeze only, but never to study myself.
I looked at those two vertical lines between my eyes, my What the Fuck Lines, and I knew I had earned them. My daughter makes the What the Fuck face all the time, and so does my granddaughter at age six. We all What the Fuck each other all the time, it’s a family thing.
I have that Eastern European everything, which means soft teeth and dark circles under my eyes. And a Bo-belly. It also means perseverance, lots of crying when I chop onions and listen other writers’ stories (which is an honor)… and I know how to scrub a floor clean and stay up all night to finish a good book or memorize a poem.
I exercise every day, no matter how hectic the day is, including lifting weights and yoga, more for my mind than my body though exercising naked in front of a giant mirror has kept me motivated and also accepting the All of Me.
Now when I look in the mirror my mother and grandmother and great mother and even my daughter and granddaughter are staring back at me, and I’m so grateful for all of us, it helps me understand time is not linear.
Anyone who follows my essays knows I was not supposed to live this long, so I accept and truly love my flaws. A few years ago I was dating a photographer who took the mole off my left cheek in photo shop, and also changed my chin.
I remember staring at the photograph and thinking, that’s not me. It took a while for me to see what was missing. I didn’t know I loved my mole until it wasn’t there.
I was born late morning, so I’ll be turning sixty after my first cup of coffee. I’m also turning sixteen and thirty-two and forty. Because we all carry every age, every year inside of us. The memories we weave into story tapestries will live on long after we have gone, and in this way we will all be frozen in so many moments in our lives.
I still rock a good pair of jeans, love my boots, hoop earrings, to laugh so hard I pee my pants and need an inhaler, and I love connective sex with the man I love.
I have learned to love harder, have better boundaries, listen with my whole body and fix things instead of buy new. I finish things and I show up for myself and the people I love.
I still talk too much, write too much, say inappropriate things, laugh too loud and love you like it might be the last time I speak to you.
Recently, my boyfriend and I hung up angry, and we were so quick in the morning to say we love each other, because we do, and love always wins.
That’s also something I have learned. Don’t expect anyone to love you the way you love them.
Speaking of love, I’m so happy to still be on planet earth with you while I’m turning sixty…. and seventy and twelve and nineteen. Because aren’t we really celebrating the all of us, that we made it this far beside our younger selves and our older selves and all we have created and all the people we have loved?
Poet Raymond Carver wrote in his poem Late Fragment:
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth
Dr. Seuss said, “How did it get so late so soon?”