So, I’m nine months into my fifties and I figured it might be useful to compile a list of the good, bad and the ugly so far. I’m sure things will get better, worse and way more ugly as time marches on but here’s a snapshot in time, from my perspective.
(NB: this is not a piece about the sex workers and conmen I’ve met in my lifetime. That’s another blog entirely).
Sorry, Not Sorry
Look, I haven’t turned into a giant bitch but honestly, unless I genuinely think I’ve done something to upset or hurt someone else, I’m not going to sweat it. When I was younger I was way more apologetic about things. If someone was having a bad day and chose to take that out on me by being particularly picky / critical / difficult, I couldn’t do enough to make amends. Now, not so much. I don’t need everyone to like me all the time. It’s very liberating.
Life Is Short
On the surface this may look like a con. But contemplating mortality in all its uncomfortable glory makes me want to take a few more risks. Usually, I’m not a natural risk-taker (apart from that time I jumped out of a plane, and then I was strapped to someone’s front like a giant baby) but I feel more inclined these days to throw caution to the wind and try new things and make the most of every day above ground.
Never one to take myself too seriously, I’ve ramped it up lately. These days I welcome opportunities to share stories of my failings with friends and sometimes even strangers. Like the time I went to the gym induction session and my 12-year-old instructor asked me to jump backwards off a bench and into a squat, and I landed on the nice young man stretching on the floor behind me. Hilarious!
I Have Superpowers (Invisibility and Laser Beam Eyes)
There was a time when I’d walk down the street and boys would look at me. Now, I walk down the street with my daughter and they look at her. Generally they realise within a few seconds that she is way too young to be looked at like that and so they look away very quickly. Also, I have discovered I have actual laser beams behind my eyeballs which I can utilise on these very occasions, which is extremely useful. It’s nice blending into the background a little bit, as long as you’re firmly in the foreground at home, which, I’m happy to report, I am.
I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter
Our dog is 11 – or 77, if she was a person. Every day we walk past a house with two large dogs who bark at her quite aggressively. Every day we’d walk past and she would be all tense and stressed, occasionally barking back, until one day she just stopped a few doors down from that house. She wouldn’t budge. So I took her across the road and we continued on our walk. Now, we cross the road every time. I completely understand how she feels: sometimes, it’s just better to cross the road.
Everyone is 12
Like that gym instructor, policemen (it’s a cliché but it’s true), financial advisors – sometimes even Santa looks pre-pubescnet in comparison to me, particularly if I’ve had a rough run-up to Christmas.
My Eyelids are Collapsing
This doesn’t need elaboration, except to say I should have shares in L’Oreal and I haven’t worked out why, at 103, Jane Fonda looks so damn perky all the time.
Not so much about vanity but the business of getting up in the morning, getting off the sofa after an extended period or – who am I kidding – just standing up. For me, it is the law that any movement from sitting to standing must be accompanied by an exhalation of breath. And I’m not talking yoga. But, having read this paragraph, maybe I should be. Often I’m getting up in order to find my reading glasses which I refuse to wear around my neck, necessitating approximately 15 pairs of cheap readers stashed strategically around the house.
I suppose it’s rather sweet, but the younger generation (OMG I actually wrote those words) tends to interact with me on a different level these days, like I’m someone who should be respected because of my age. Sort of like I did with my mother’s friends, which makes complete sense but somewhere in the deluded part of my brain I’m thinking “hang on, it’s not like I’m THAT much older than them” and then my rational brain kicks in and tells me that actually, I am. This does not stop me from trying to be down with the kids at every opportunity, particularly if this involves embarrassing my daughter by saying things like “FoSho”, “Lit, “Shot” and “Down with the Kids”. Apparently her friends think I’m really funny. I’m sure they’re laughing with me.
And there it is, the pros and cons of fifty-so-far. The benefits seem to outweigh the negatives at this point. Fifty feels like a new outfit: I wasn’t too sure about it at first, but once I got it home, twirled around in front of the mirror for a bit and tried it on with a different pair of shoes, I figured it looked good on me.
But then again, I didn’t have my glasses on. I couldn’t find them.