Growing Pains

Originally published June 26, 2014

I have thought about writing this one too long. I actually started it more than a month ago. Should’ve finished it then — or started something else sooner, way back in wintertime. Except I was thrown off course by The Polar Vortex. And, LIFE — which sometimes has a way of knocking you back on your heels. For blogSo, I’ve allowed myself to become buried and packed in under some funky mood, and I haven’t completely shaken it off. Even tho’ it’s now a few days into summertime, and on the other side of the glass all is lush and green … and, overgrown beyond caring. Including our pond, which is slowly suffocating under a thick layer of duckweed because when it hasn’t been raining, it’s been hot and humid. Which I hate. But hey, better late than never … I am working on it, working on sloughing off the winter mold like loofah-ing dry, flaky, itchy skin. I am gingerly placing one foot in front of the other, taking baby steps: my stiff, achy, flabby arms and gnarled, old hands, outstretched like badly weathered wings. (Don’t worry — my husband and I will be tending to the pond this weekend.) But, just “showing up” should count for something, right? Seriously, I think I’m going to be just as surprised as you to see where and what I end up with here. (Are you sure you want to come along for the ride?) Because at this point, I honestly don’t know what’s ahead (do any of us really know anything?), and I don’t want to care enough to think about it. I. Just. Plan. To. Keep. Going.

To you, I say … Proceed at your own risk.

The post I started way back in May was — I cringe — silly. Reading the draft for the first time in many weeks, I recognized it wasn’t a total loss, but it was so like me … all jokey and taking too long to settle down and get to the point. Way too many words about … ?

Aging, for one thing. (I will turn 60 in less than two months.) Oprah — the ham that She is — played a starring role because She turned 60 the beginning of the year, and so now all of us “oldies but goodies” are supposed to be embracing our 60s. Because … ?

It would be so uncool and whiny of us otherwise. (Don’t get me wrong — I like Her. It’s just that I imagine it must be so easy to embrace anything and — almost anyone — when you are worth nearly $3 billion and have about half that number of peeps attending to your every need.) I’ll admit it: A decade ago, I was embracing my 50s AND encouraging others to do the same. But, 50 is the new 30, and 60 is the not-so-new 40. Meh.

Maybe — just maybe — it’s just as hard for Oprah and her ilk to constantly maintain some kind of happy face for the world stage, when inside you’re not so sure about what you believe anymore. About what you care about. About what you should care about. About. Taking. That. Next. Step.

Still, I’ve always found inspiration from quotes, and to paraphrase one of my heroes, Winston Churchill … If you’re going through a Midlife Crisis, keep going.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to wish I had stuck with that silly first draft. Still heady from my 19th century around-the-world adventure, led by my new BFF — brave, intelligent, “never-say-die” Alma Whittaker — I felt light and happy (who knew “rolling around in mosses” could be so invigorating?). I was literally skipping along in a stream- of-consciousness frame of mind; entertaining myself and (I gleefully imagined) my audience with random quips; bee boppin’ to one of my favorite iTunes’ playlists … but seriously, making no headway connecting the dots regarding my subject matter. Still, I believed I would. Ahh, the folly of youth.

Now? Now, I’m complaining a lot, and when I’m not saying it out loud I’m thinking it and feeling it. Dare I say it? That I’m actually beginning to feel comfortable with my uncool, whiny self? (Maybe it’s just the after effects of nearly 800 pages of hand-wringing over young, drug addicted, suicidal Theo Decker?) Anyway … What kind of transformation is this? Where’s my butterfly?! What happened to that fresh, bright-eyed girl who was voted “Friendliest and Most Cheerful” of her senior class?

(Trust me … She’s still there/here, but she doesn’t feel like playing right now.) Doesn’t feel like skipping through Facebook-land; doesn’t feel like listening to some upbeat music and dancing like nobody’s watching; doesn’t feel like taking a walk in her favorite park and thanking God for sun, blue skies and birdsong (sorry, God … it’s nothing personal; it’s just me … I know You’ll understand). Doesn’t even want to engage in “spirited discussions” about the Middle East mess, gun control or immigration reform. (Does, however, still want to know what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Don’t you?)

So, here we finally are, at the end. And, I am very glad to be wrapping up this post and shrugging “this monkey” off my back. In fact, even tho’ I know that life ain’t all beer and skittles, and more’s the pitycould be persuaded to join a “happy hour,” drink some good scotch, smoke some of my favorite cognac-dipped cigarillos AND cuss out loud … in public, even! (In a smoke-friendly environment, of course. I don’t want to get arrested!)

I know, I know … It’s not the “good girl” thing to do. I. Really. Don’t. Care. It’s real, and that’s who I want to be.

“Artwork” by Andrea Balt. 

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