Tomorrow is my birthday. I'll be fifty, 5-0. Freaking fifty. Tonight I say goodbye to forty-nine, thirty-nine, twenty-nine, nineteen, nine, and nine minutes.
Who was I at nine minutes old? Who am I now?
Being fifty won't change much about my life, but the age reminds me of words like Ma'am and Loss Of Bladder Control. The sound of fifty is not a beautiful sound, not the sound of twenty, thirty or even a spunky spike-haired forty. Fifty is a Fifty & Older online dating site, routine colonoscopies, the pendulous and wrinkled reality of gravity. Even when a person looks, feels or acts younger than their fifty years, they're still fifty. The number is what it is, not so young.
How did this happen? Just yesterday I was twenty-six, I swear.
Fifty years is half a century. I'm a rotary phone years old, Romper Room years old, smoking as many cigarettes as you want in the doctor's office years old.
In a perfect world, we'd all make it to one hundred in good health. We wouldn't look visibly older until thirty seconds before death. Our sex organs would still function optimally, our minds would fire in our nineties as they did in our twenties. Passing through life wouldn't mean passing beyond our best years.
But let's be honest. We do pass our best years, our "best" meaning the ability to walk without assistance, remember what day it is, recognize our own faces in the mirror. Some day I will miss my best days, and I know that turning fifty means getting perilously close to that day.
So I'll enter the The Not-So-Young Zone tomorrow. Maybe I'll forget to feel old. I certainly hope so. Why do we measure years instead of moments? Why all those dumb candles?
Why not count Kodak moments instead of years? Kisses, laughs, memories? What's a year? It's 365 days, many of them not very special. A birthday is an obligatory same-as-always day. What's the point of remembering how "old" we are?
I'd rather remember how many times my mother rocked me to sleep, how many dogs I've had, or boyfriends (Freudian slip). I'd rather remember best sunsets, best kisses, best cheeseburgers. Why not count the varied ways others have made us feel special, without the added weight of feeling older? Why not count what really counts?
So how many moments am I? How many smiles? Giggles? Hugs? Loves?
Tomorrow will be a struggle, because I don't want to think of myself in terms of years. I'm four great kids and some new tires; a bamboo box full of pure essential oils I'm learning to use, and a new iPhone 6 Plus. I'm the Iced Cookie wax melts I can smell downstairs, a pair of orange sandals made by a company that donates profits to AIDS research. I am and always will be green eyes, too much sugar, not enough vegetables. I'm silver, not gold, and a mid-morning person, a fan of dark chocolate, too many books and not enough time to read them all.
I'm now, not tomorrow or yesterday, this morning or an hour from now, but right now. Now can't be measured, counted, numbered. You'll never find it on a calendar, in history books or the 6 O'clock News. Blink and you'll miss it.
I'm anything but fifty. What the hell is fifty? It's two digits, a long tick in time, a random number that belongs to somebody else.