I turned fifty years old yesterday. And honestly, it feels exactly the same as forty-nine. Or any age that’s come before it. Sure, forty-nine held the joy of a detached retina, procrastinated tooth yanking and root canals, and an introduction to perimenopause. I’ve lost weight and gained weight and lost it again. But all I really need are a few pairs of pants that fit. And some pretty dresses that are completely impractical. It seems anything impractical makes me happy.
What I need are the days to wear those dresses. Days where I can put on that big chunky necklace I never get to wear and the dress I need to pick up by the corners so I don’t trip over myself.
What I need are the minutes it takes to call my friends and family and let them know that I am thinking about them. More than they would ever think. A quick, silly text just has to suffice.
And I feel guilty. I just always feel guilty…
But my brain is so overworked. It’s overworked to the point of stagnation. Where all I can do is stand still for a few minutes and stare at a pile of Miriam’s artwork, junk mail, bills, reminders of bills, and booklets of family activities we don’t have the time or money to do.
And now, just a little shout-out to my friend, Grief! That sucker will make everything harder, for the rest of your life. And I remind myself everyday to try not to be so critical of myself for my social shortcomings. Those unreturned phone calls. Those forgotten birthdays and check-in calls.
I just need to be in my bubble sometimes. My little family and my writing. Paying the rent late. Putting gas in the car when it’s running on empty. And so am I. Searching through the laundry basket of all the stuff that doesn’t fit for the one pair of pants that do.
We went to the Museum of Natural History yesterday. We used our birthday money from my father to take Miriam to see the dinosaurs. We took her on the train for the first time and her first time in a taxi. She’s a great little adventurer. I hope that never changes.
As my phone buzzed with texts and messages, I was smiling a big, goofy, wide smile at them all. And then I’d look back up at the dinosaurs and smile at them too. Miriam told me she didn’t really like “these kinds of dinosaurs.” She wanted to see the friendlier dinosaurs. “The ones with skin.” She also just really wanted to say ‘hi” to all the security guards in the museum. I think they enjoyed it too.
Outside, on the way back to the train, we saw a bridal party coming out of Central Park after taking their pictures. The bride, of course, was beautiful and Miriam wanted to say “hi” to her too. So we waited on the other side of the street as they all crossed. And when the bride got close enough, Miriam shouted,
“Hi Bride!!! You look so BEAUTIFUL!!!!”
The bride stopped and said thank you and gave my little girl a moment she was still talking about on the way to school today.
Thank you all for the wishes and messages. Thank you all for understanding that we all only have so many moments. I try to keep them all as authentic as I can. Whether they involve dinosaurs without skin, random brides, museum security guards, or days that we’re all running on EMPTY.
Find the moments, Wear the chunky necklace. And at least try not to feel guilty. I’ll try too.