I was recently at a birthday party where the honoree was turning fifty. A cousin raised a glass to her “half-a-century-old” relative. I turned to my younger sister and glaringly whispered, “If you call me that in my birthday toast, I will despise you for eternity!” She just smiled and gave me a look that said, “It’s on!”
As I approach fifty, I’m revisited by remnants of my youth. Teenage zits reemerge as menopausal acne. The music of adolescence is the melody of car commercials. Unbeknownst to me, someone took my personal timeline and folded it in half before the ink was dry. Souvenirs from my younger days have been spattered and smeared with the present, creating a haphazard Rorschach test. Sometimes, I glide across a faint smudge—the encounter generates a background hum that vaguely prickles my consciousness. Occasionally, I stumble into a solid splotch. These happenstances startle me like a stranger abruptly grabbing my ass, heightening my awareness. I am compelled to pay attention and scrutinize my surroundings.
I’ve always been a bit behind the times. When I was in my twenties, thirty was the new twenty. In my thirties, forty was the new thirty and so on. Now that I am approaching mid-century modern, I’m too outdated to be a hipster, yet too immature for the senior discount. I’m smack dab in the middle.
Fifty, it seems to me, is a point flanked by coming of age and an old wives’ tale. I now find myself situated between:
- Daisy dukes and sequined track suits
- Thongs and granny panties
- Bartles & James and Ensure
- Two a.m. chili cheeseburger runs and early bird specials
- Fraternity parties and funerals
- Moonwalking and walkers
- Ten-speed bikes and electric shopping carts
- Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful and I’ve fallen and I can’t get up
Fifty does sound a bit half-baked. I have half a mind to look at the glass as half-empty and declare myself half-dead. I’m not half the woman I used to be and half the battle is not going off half-assed as I wait to see how the other half lives. I suppose I should give it half a chance, realize that getting here was half the fun and that it’s not half bad.
I still don’t know the half of it.
Originally published in @HumanParts @Medium.com