Odd, anxious kid that I was, when the dog that I grew up with got older, I used to “practice” saying goodbye to her. I would think to myself, “What if this was the last time you’re ever going to get to pet her?” And…in those moments, I could never stop petting her until I let go of that morose notion. Continue reading “The “Lasts” Go By in the Blink of an Eye”
What Verse Are You Singing?
My new teenager (!?) and I enjoy listening to the radio as we tool around to the various places we go. One of the songs we both like these days is Lukas Graham’s “7 Years.” Though there is a line or two that we needed to discuss (smoking herb, etc.), we both hear and appreciate the story within Graham’s lyrics.
Something That I Used to Know
Gone are the days when I would sit in a darkened theater to watch movies in order to analyze and write about them for a grade. (Those were…the days.) I loved the flicker of the projector as I was whisked into yet another story of suspense, or love, or…body snatching. Continue reading “Something That I Used to Know”
A Time Coma
Having spent my freshmen year of college at a Big Ten campus where parties abounded, I had no need for a fake ID—there was always something going on somewhere. But sophomore year led me to living on campus in Chicago, where tons of wonderful establishments needed an ID for entry. On my first night out, though, I didn’t need one. Here’s why.
My new co-ed friends told me there was this “must go” all-ages party at a bar called Frankie’s—no ID needed—so…come on! And I did. But when we got there, sure enough there was a bouncer at the front door. Some of my new friends were 21, and the rest had IDs that said they were…I was the only thing in the way of all of us having a good time. Well, hell, I wasn’t going to let that stop us! So I walked up to the bouncer and handed him my driver’s license that showed I was 19.
I had no idea how I was going to play it.
He looked at it. Then he looked at me. Then he looked back down at it again. Finally, he raised his head, squinted, and said, “Uh…this says you’re only 19.”
“I know,” I replied. “…I was in a coma.”
Now, I don’t know where this came from, but out my mouth it flew. Like somehow time doesn’t count on your license if you’re unconscious?? This made no sense. If this wasn’t a sure way to get pointed to the curb, I don’t know what was. Apparently, though, my cocksure way of saying it threw the bouncer, and he looked at me and almost challenged me with his next words of wisdom. “Oh, yeah? For how long?” he asked, studying me.
What? Was there still a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel?? “I don’t know,” I said with irritation. “I was in a coma…”
My friends were off to the side watching in quiet amazement wondering what could possibly be the next round in this goofy volley of words.
I’m not sure what was going through this guy’s head—confusion, bad math, or what—but he gave me one more intense look and said, “Well, okay, but…just this once.” And…he let me through. My friends and I went on our merry way to have some serious fun, and the story lived on as legend.
After that experience, I realized I needed an ID if I wanted to continue going out. After all, how many times is the “I was in a coma” line going to work?!
[Side note: kids if you’re reading this, please know that a fake ID is not a good choice to make. It’s kind of actually illegal. There’s plenty of fun for you to have in other ways. (And they make driver’s licenses way too hard to alter these days!)]
But this story is not about my fake ID. (Maybe that’s for another time?)
Indulge me for a moment as I touch on something metaphorically here—and pardon me if I go Existentialist for a few. In thinking about this story, it made me think how we can sometimes let ourselves slip into a time coma.
Time flies…in epochs, really. Perhaps it is because I am getting older and life is posing so many different kinds of challenges that I feel that the swirl of life is becoming a black hole.
Chunks of time just go…and I look back and think what am I doing? Where did the lost time go? Where is life taking me? How do I wake up and slow things down so that life doesn’t get sucked back into that damn black hole?
Okay. So maybe that’s a bit of a heady extrapolation to take from my silly story. Maybe I should have just kept it at sharing the tale and hoping you got a kick out of it.
But if you ever feel like the swirl of life is really more like a vortex, I hope it helps you to know you are not alone. Let’s be time coma survivors together.
The Value of Wrinkles
My birthday is this week. It will mark my 46th year in this world. If I make it to 92, then I guess I can still entertain the notion of being middle-aged.
I don’t have a problem telling my age, though I’d be lying if I denied the clock’s ticking doesn’t make me sad sometimes. I don’t want to run out of time. When I feel this way, I reassure myself by remembering that there are no guarantees to the days ahead—I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound very reassuring, but my point is that there is no set time we have on this earth, and there is no limit for striving, seeking, finding, and not yielding.
Age for the average person doesn’t come without a few wrinkles, and while they’re nothing I aim for, I accept them—at least more than some people. I remember one bizarre conversation I had when I was the ripe old age of 19. I was in a college film production class downtown when these two very upscale girls came up to me after our first class. “How do you do it??” the one girl asked me as she smoothed her full-length fur coat after placing her oversized sunglasses on her face.
“Do what?” I replied.
“Stay so wrinkle-free?” I thought they were joking, but they were indeed very serious.
“Uh…I’m 19…there’s nothing to do…”
“Oh, yes, yes, there is. We are very careful. We stay out of the sun and smile as little as possible. We don’t want laugh lines! And we saw you just laughing away in class. Yet your skin looks so nice. So what do you do?” These two were maybe 21. I was dumbfounded. I think it was at that moment that they helped me see what value I would put on wrinkles in my years to come.
“Well, I guess I’ll be the wrinkled one who’s laughed a lot as the years go by.”
With that response, they simultaneously looked at me with disdain and turned and left. I sometimes wonder where those two might be today. I really hope they have a few laugh lines.
As a kid, I was very into collecting patches or stickers of places I had traveled to, and in a way, wrinkles are a variation of that kind of collection to me. While I don’t have wrinkles specific to certain experiences (that would be interesting!), they are still a reflection of the life I’ve lived so far.
It bums me out that wrinkles are such an issue for American women. There is more value to us than the elasticity in our faces. We should be proud of the journeys we are taking. And while I absolutely believe that we should take good care of ourselves, I don’t think the aging process should be a cause of shame, but more like a badge of honor.
Lately, my 87-year-old mother has taken to looking at me without her glasses and announcing, “You have no wrinkles!” I know she is trying to make me feel good, and I also know she has a pretty strong eyeglass prescription.
I do have wrinkles. For now, they’re mainly evident when I smile or laugh. As my 19-year-old self foresaw, it shows that I have indeed done some considerable laughing and smiling in my 46 years. Isn’t that something to feel good about? I think so.
I Fall to Pieces (or Pop Goes the Knee-sel)
It was 13 years ago that I first uttered a variation of a phrase I use. I said, “Mind’s 18, body’s 32” when I returned to the softball field after many years away, having bolted out of the batter’s box upon hitting the ball. Why did I say it? Because my instincts kicked in to burst into a sprint to first base, but the 32-year-old quad of my left leg wasn’t so game. Ripppp.
See, my cocky little self didn’t understand the value of warming up as someone in their right mind in their fourth decade of life should. Well, battling that tear all season, I became a devout convert to running warm-ups prior to game time. In my mind, I was still 18. But my body had—and has—other ideas.
My soon-to-be 87-year-old mom has uttered the phrase “growing old isn’t for wimps” many times over the last several years. As she is battling her current and most significant health challenge, I know she did not reach this age by being a weenie. I hope that some of those genes are coursing through my body. So far, I think I’m heading in that direction, which is good because I apparently am a slow learner regarding the brain/body connection.
My latest time to use the aforementioned phrase was a few months ago…except this time it went, “Mind’s 18, body’s 45.” And this time it was a soccer field. And a kids vs parents game. I instinctually tried this sweet roundhouse kick move only to hear my knee pop. It felt like everything below my knee was glass and just shattered down to my toes.
As I crumpled to the ground, my husband looked over to me and asked if I was okay. “Uh…I think I’m done for the game.” I was pretty certain it would not be a good idea for me to shake it off and get back in there. Of course, all the rest of the parents immediately shifted their playing into low gear, intent on keeping the body count at one.
Long story not so long, I recently had knee surgery to take care of the damage that was caused when a 45yo woman tried to kick a soccer ball in midair while playing her son’s 8-9yo team.
I know, I know. That’s my point. My brain has not caught up to the idea that I’m getting old. Until now. I think. Within a month and a half I’ve had my gallbladder out and my knee “cleaned up.” I’ve definitely been feeling my age—and I think I may be feeling other people’s age, too—like I’m just gathering up years to heap on my mind so that it doesn’t pull this crap again.
Only, I don’t want to.
Even though I’ve been hobbling around and wincing or in pain for one reason or another for the last several months, I’m just not ready to throw in the towel and act my age. It’s just that it’s getting harder to ignore.
Thankfully, I’m a hardhead with strong instincts. After all, mind over matter, right? And maybe I will continue to use this phrase until, Lord willing, I’m an octogenarian like my mom, and I’ll be saying, “Mind’s 18, body’s 87.” Of course, at that point I may be in a full body cast, but deep down inside there will be a part of me that is smiling, knowing that the towel hasn’t been thrown in but is still in my corner, right where it belongs.