I was talking about my constant waking up in the middle of the night with a friend the other day and he said, “Mags, we’re getting old.” I laughed but inside I winced just a little. I don’t like being included in that club.
It seems suddenly—though let’s be honest, it isn’t sudden, not really, you just don’t notice the incremental changes—I am noticing my age.
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with genes that belie my age. Up until a few years ago I used my son’s age as a kind of party trick to gasps of ‘surely you don’t have a son that old! Did you have him when you were 14?’ which I took as affirmation I was beating the age game.
But lately I have noticed it, particularly in my yoga class as I look over longingly at the taut young girls in their power poses, their lean long abs with muscle highways running up and down and their dewy skin plump and glowing. I used to look at shoes this way. What is happening to me?
I am aging. It’s a fact. Let’s not be coy about it. What to do about this unwanted house guest? I’m figuring it out. I’m getting into gear. I’m a factory of ideas. I’m all over it. Life, I hear you okay? I won’t fool around. I get it, the time is now. My time. Is mine. What will I do with it?
Get binary. This or that. This is the gift of age. Suddenly, you’ve built your own personal emotional garbage sorting bin. This is out. This is in. Simple really. Why haven’t I done it before? Lots of reasons. Low self-esteem. Relationship issues. Family issues. Child issues. Financial issues. Yada yada yada.
Forget all of it.
Get binary. Simplify. Yes or no? Want to have in my life or no? The chatter gets quiet, and the age question seems irrelevant. Just the way it should be.
The Unwanted House Guest
It’s catching up to me
like a slow seeping morning fog
some mornings it catches me
and I wake with sore hips and
eyes so dry they gasp for air
like a dying fish.
Am I dying?
Suddenly, age is a house guest
worse than any one night stand.
She gives me cruel reasons to wake up—
3, 4, 5 am nudging me awake to
my sleeping bag of worry
where I am zipped up in a tight bind of middle age
as though I were camping in my own night
my own bed my own life my own pajamas
my sleeve of anxiety good till 40 below
or in menopausal flashes of heat.
I look askance at my guest in the mirror
she’s fooling around with my face leaving
a pattern of lines and furrows and constellations
of spots that are no longer adorable
When did I stop being adorable?
I tell her to stay in
the guest room and not come out
‘till the funeral.