In exactly three weeks I will be celebrating my birthday. For years I hated birthdays – I mean, hey, I am getting OLD! Old, I tell you, like sagging, bagging skin and drooping body parts and those annoying brown age spots (that fascinate my 4.5 year old granddaughter – “Gaga, why do you have all of those brown spots on your arms? Me: “They are old age spots, people get them when they are old.” Mackenna, upon inspecting ALL of my many, many brown spots, “Gaga, you must be really, really old…”)
My grandkids engage in a lot of imaginative play, which warms my heart because I have always done this. Ok, I still do this! The other day the grands and their Mommy were being Ben and Holly and other assorted elves. Mackenna is always the director (ALWAYS) and was assigning everyone their roles. “I am Elf Holly. Mommy, you are Ben. Althea and Declan, you are elves with no names. And Gaga? You are the wise OLD elf.” She really emphasized the OLD part. For a moment, I was like, “Seriously? Age discrimination much, there girlie?!” And then I was like, “Eh… I’ve got this.” So – even though I have never seen this particular program, I drew on my many years of theater experience (I did have starring roles in my 7th and 8th grade play productions) and immersed myself in my role of the wise OLD elf. I adopted a (very bad) English accent and said what I believed was very witty and wise elf lines. I suspect I will be up for an Emmy next year…
As I said, birthdays used to bother me – but not any more. I am so happy to be alive and able to spend time with my family and friends. I treasure each and every moment that I can share with our four generations of family.
I will be 56 years old in 21 days. I am kinda sad to be leaving my 55th age behind, though. It’s not because I am aging another year – but because it’s been pretty cool to say that I am the speed limit (highway, not interstate!) whenever anyone ask me how old I am.
My oldest granddaughter has also had a blast in the past year with my 55 years. She jubilantly – and very loudly – announces my age to EVERYONE! And I do mean EVERYONE! Every teacher and student at her preschool knows that I am 55. We will be at the grocery store and she will tell random strangers, “My Gaga is 55.” Standing in line at the ice cream foundation, Mackenna strikes up a conversation with people with the icebreaker of pointing to me and proclaiming, “She’s 55.” Her actions usually startle those whom she is addressing. They stare wide-eyed at me and have a questioning look upon their face. Nonchalantly I reply, “Yep, I’m 55 but just don’t ask me my weight.”
I’ve discovered that life really is a highway. You start out in a safety of a parking lot under the watchful eyes of your parents. They keep you contained and make sure that you don’t venture out onto the street until you can do so safely. And then you enter a back road, where’s there’s just a hint of adventure but you really should be “driving” slowly. Suddenly one day the training wheel come off and you can hit the highway and accelerate. You have to be careful, though as the road of life has twists and turns and speed bumps. Sometimes you want to just keep going and and going and are forced to apply the brakes without warning. Often it’s dark and you feel as though you’re lost and all alone but then you remember to turn on the lights and see the path has been right in front of you all along.
If you are lucky enough, you can expand your horizons and enter the freeway or even the Autobahn. Oh, the thrills and chills of just putting the pedal to the metal on occasion! “I laugh in the face of danger”, I yell. And then I get scared or nauseous or a little of both and take the next exit.
I don’t know where life will take me but I have, for the most part, enjoyed the ride I’ve been on for almost 56 years. My course of direction has been mostly slow and steady with a few 100 mph detours. My little sporty car has long been replaced with a family SUV with plenty of seating – I’ve found that I like to have company as I journey down the road. I want to jump in more puddles with the grandkids and eat ice cream for dinner and go on carnival rides that make me woozy. I want to be 90 and still dressing up in costumes and putting on performances with really bad English accents. I want to keep on dancing under the pale moonlight. I want to jump out of a plane and discover how it must feel to be like a bird with the wind under its wings. I want to wake up in the morning and spy fairies hiding in my flower bushes.
Oh yes, life is a highway – and I really, really do want to ride it all night long!