“We are so old!” I said to my sister, Nancy, as I came out of the bathroom at a Sleep Inn motel at 5:20 am, having assessed the physical damage from the day before. My malar festoons (the fancy name for the un-plastic-surgery-able eye bags my father bestowed upon me) were more pronounced than ever, my arthritic back ached in places I didn’t previously know existed and my left knee creaked and clicked but wouldn’t straighten.
“The sad thing is,” Nancy lamented. “We can’t even get positive affirmations anymore. Remember when ‘I’m so old!’ would get the ‘Oh, nonsense! You’re not old!’ response? Now the most we get are sympathetic smiles and an occasional, ‘You look great for your age!’ or the gag-worthy, ‘Well, you know, you’re as young as you feel!’”
Even though 60 is the new 40, and I’m years from becoming a full-fledged sexagenarian, there’s no denying that I am no longer a spring chicken.
Yet, there’s still a lot I can do. Two weekends ago I bicycled 80 miles in one day for an MS charity ride and could have gone another 20. Yes, I’m glad I didn’t have to, but I could have.
I just spent 122 hours in 11 days (do the math), on my gnarled and bunioned feet, working on the Food Truck, taking bathroom breaks solely so I could sneak a sit-down.
And, I can still spend seven consecutive days chasing umbrella drinks with bourbon while cruising with my partner in crime, Patty (aka Penny).
I can no longer run, or jog or do anything but the old-lady speed walk. I can no longer keep up with multiple cross-table conversations in noisy restaurants. And I can no longer remember what I’m not supposed to forget.
But, there is an upside to getting old.
- I don’t ever have to run, or jog or do anything but the old-lady speed walk. Because I’ll never again play on a team that requires that level of physicality.
- I can finally ask the gas station attendant to put air in my tires without feeling like he’s thinking it’s something I should be able to do myself.
- I can go out without make-up because, really, there’s not much difference between the before and after.
- I can say no when I’m asked to volunteer.
- I can simply smile when the daughter suggests I get Botox to take care of aforementioned malar festoons and then tell her that in 30 years she can get rid of hers in any way she pleases.
- I can get away without wearing heels to weddings. Just as long as I leave the flesh-colored, lace-up orthopedic sneakers at home.
- I can wear my Spanx without worrying that anyone will notice the elastic-induced dents in my skin when I shed them at night.
- I can go on vacation with my girlfriends and be sent off joyfully by my spouse. Because, after thirty years together, it’s a vacation for both of us.
- I can play the “old card” when I need a sofa carried out to the curb, heavy packages transported to the car or IKEA furniture assembled. I just don’t have to do it anymore.
- I don’t have to count sheep to fall asleep. Instead I just hum Bob Marley’s, “Every little thing gonna be all right” and mean it. Because despite aches and pains, wrinkles and crinkles, gray hairs and chin hairs, it is going to be all right.
Always has been. Always will be.