Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 19, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 19, 2004 – I remember walking home from school one day, the year I was eleven. I was just aching to grow up. I wanted to be a teenager so badly, to leave behind all things I considered to be ‘girlish’, like dolls, bobby sox, Mary-Jane shoes, frills, ribbons and bows.
I recall looking at my shadow on the ground as I walked home that day and pretending to be an adult. I turned up the collar on my trench coat. I must have seen that in an a Bogie movie. I held a running conversation with myself about grown up things like paying the bills, buying groceries and inviting friends to dinner on the week-end. I thought the girls in my grade were silly and childish.
I didn’t dislike them, but they talked about churlish things, or so I thought. Unlike my friends and I, who talked about growing up and marrying Elvis Presley. At fifteen Elvis was supplanted by Paul MacCartney, but neither of these relationships worked out in the long run.
I remember when the last few days of public school ended and the summer of my 13th year stretched out before me. I was well on my way to being a grown up now. High school started in the fall and I was ready to leave childish things behind. I had almost arrived. How exciting. Before I became a teenager, on the rare occasions when I was allowed to wear nylon stockings, I always donned a garter belt. Seemed sensible – I was as slender as a whippet.
But high school brought with it a whole new set of rules and regulations. Nylons were de rigeur – but garter belts were not. “Every girl” wore a girdle. Can you imagine? Why? So I dutifully went with my mother to McKay’s Department Store on main street to be outfitted with this gut wrenching, thigh pinching, bottom controlling device. There was to be no “jiggle” showing on this young body in high school. My girdle was so tight that when I changed for gym class the butterfly and flower pattern on the elastic had been transferred onto my thighs. It’s a shame that the winged butterflies didn’t help my basketball shots.
High school disappeared in a flash and on a bright, sunny September day I left home to attend university. Four years later and I was out in the working world. Wow. So this was it – adulthood. An apartment, a student loan, buying groceries, nine to five, doing the laundry at a coin Laundromat, saving to try and buy a car, riding my bike to work, fighting with my boyfriend-of-the-moment, doing all my errands on the week-end and then going back to work on Monday. This wasn’t just for a couple of months – this was it. Why on earth had I been in such a hurry?
My twenties, thirties and forties simply vanished. I couldn’t have been paying attention. I meant to, but something always seemed to get in the way. Then one day – all too soon – I was 49 and planning a dinner out with friends for my 50th birthday. That was four years ago. I’m not a woman given to histrionics, but it gave me pause for thought – this turning fifty.
Here’s What I Know Now
Turning 50 Panics People – But – It’s Not Fatal. You Do Survive!
It happens before you know it – so don’t waste your days.
Start to develop a new attitude – be less serious – do what you want.
You still want to have sex.
You still can have sex.
Young people think you’re old and know absolutely nothing. Does that sound familiar? You now know they’re right – you know nothing!
You will probably put on weight.
If you’re a woman, you will notice that your thighs have a mind of their own. If they want to wiggle and jiggle – they will. Get used to it.
You will remember how you looked as recently as 40 and have pangs of regret that those days are gone.
You can say outrageous things and get away with it.
You don’t care as much about what others “think” as you used to.
You start to really like yourself.
You get tired more easily and don’t have as much energy as you once had.
You are keenly aware of how many stupid people are on the earth and silently wonder why they don’t all live together (on another planet).
You spend money on yourself without feeling (as) guilty. If you’ve lived this long you bloody well deserve a real piece of art or a new kitchen.
You start to believe (just a little bit) that you’re going to die one day.
Friends and family members do pass away and you get through it.
You really understand friendship.
You go grocery shopping without wearing make-up.
If you’re single – you’d rather be alone than date an idiot.
You still have dreams and you know it’s okay to pursue them.
You understand that you will live as long as it takes to accomplish God’s design for your life.
You will always love your children but you won’t always like them – same thing with your friends.
You will start to really like your home and you may want to make changes to it, to fit who you are now. That can really be fun.
You want to give “stuff” away. You don’t want to get more “stuff” as gifts.
You appreciate how smart your parents were. If they are still alive spend more time with them. Put your “issues” to rest.
Patch up any problems with your siblings.
You understand why you never let the sun go down on a fight with another person you care about.
You know that it’s okay to let some people go – there are long-standing friendships that do not last forever.
You think more about your life and value unexpected kindness.
You laugh a lot, sometimes because you have to, but mostly because you want to.
Gee – I’m just getting started. I can’t wait for sixty. I’m going to have a cane when I’m seventy (whether I need it or not), when I’m eighty I’m still going to live in my own home and when I’m ninety I’m going to buy a sports car. Now stop taking yourself so seriously and get out there in the world. Go alone if you have to, drink wine for no reason – wear red with purple or plaid with stripes and laugh … laugh … laugh!