Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the beginning


Fifty-five. What a round number. It looks like a middle number, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s what started this depression. A round number than was actually defined as an odd number by my third grade teacher.
That sums up a large part of my life. I see things one way, most other people see things another. That was fine as a teenager. It was 1969 in West Texas. I wore lime green mini dresses while my classmates still wore pleated skirts and knee socks.
It was fine at twenty-one. I was one of four women debaters out of 155 in the conference. The mini shirts helped, so we won a few rounds and had a great deal of fun.
It was even fine at 28. I left my job as a teacher and became a Social Worker with street people as my primary clients. After all, I was just taking action on my beliefs and there was plenty of time left to change things.
I even managed to enjoy forty. I thought I’d been liberated. So what if I wasn’t the prettiest woman in the room anymore, I was teaching social workers, something I believed would make a difference. I was passing on the torch to the next generation.

Then there was fifty-five. This wasn’t supposed to be one of those milestone years. There are no black balloons or coffin cards for fifty-five. If you don’t believe me, check out Hallmark. Sixty is the next big one. Fifty-five is just another year closer to sixty. I hate to give away a secret. I can only suppose it’s a secret because no one ever warned me.
There were signs, but I missed most of them. My husband quit his management job and asked for his tools back at forty-five. Now, at 61, he climbs poles and plays with other people’s dogs. I thought he just got tired of the bullshit management brings to the table. When I asked him about it, he only shook his head and muttered to himself. Of course, he does that a lot anyway.
I talked to my adopted sister, who will reach this age in a little less than two years. She worries about me. I can see it in her face and hear it in her voice. She should be worried about herself. Her turn will come, she remains blind to the fact and continues to look for ways to bring me out of this funk.
I talked to my twenty-eight year old son. (Yes, I started early) He tried to understand. He is, after all, my son and extremely intelligent. But in the end, he told me it made no sense. Of course, I would have thought the same thing at his age.
But, then I stumbled on to the truth after a couple of shots of Tequila not long ago. Fifty-five is really all about seeing the future in context of understanding the past. Imagine sitting in a bar in Key West. You can watch the sun rise over the Gulf then just move your chair as time passes and by the end of that same day, you can watch that same sun set over the Atlantic. You can stand and watch the sun rise in the east then turn, look over your shoulder, and watch that same sun set in the west.
So, I sit in a bar in the Key West of my life, facing the end with just enough time left to turn and look back on the beginning. Pull up a stool and join me, I could use the company.

1 comment:

Kate Gaines said...

I feel so honored to know you and call you my friend. The world is blessed you are exactly the way you are.