Wednesday the 9th is the day I turn 50, an age I’ve spent several weeks contemplating and half dreading, knowing the day would inevitably arrive. Like getting heartburn after eating pizza, birthdays come no matter what you do. Fifty sounds old to me, but I don’t feel a half century old, and thanks to L’Oreal dark ash brown hair coloring I don’t really look it. I’ve always held the theory that rock and roll has kept me young. When my first instinct, upon hearing the opening chords of AC/DC’s Back in Black, ceases to be to reach for the volume knob to crank it all the way up – well then I’ll know I’m really old. When I was in my 20’s, I had the supreme pleasure of living in Austin, TX. This was during its heyday in the 70s and 80s and I got to see hundreds of live acts, some of which I actually remember. The weather and the drugs were sublime, the beer was cold, and the living was laid back. I was lucky to spend my 20s in such a free and accepting city, lucky to be able to find out who I was and lucky enough to do it 700 miles from my parents.
My 30s and 40s were my child-rearing years. They say you eventually forget the soul-sucking pain of labor – nature’s way of making sure you bear enough children to keep the old species going. Not me. I never ever forgot the endless hours of the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, which is one reason why I only had one child. My almost-20 year old turned out to be a great person in spite of (or possibly because of) his hippieish mother. We share a love of music and science. I taught him how to drive a stick shift car when he was 16 without either of us coming to blows. He learned the fine art of balancing his obligations to his father, who I divorced when he was 13, with his other obligations. He’s had a job since he was 15 and has been living with his high school sweetheart of 4 years since they graduated last May. They’re both in college and manage pretty well with limited financial help from their parents. He is my finest contribution to the world.
When I was 42, I met Ken, the love of my life. After choosing the wrong men my entire life, I finally got this one right. Thank goodness. My aunt Beth told me that her 50’s were the best decade of her life – the kids are grown and you have about as much money as you’re ever going to make in your life. Those are two things I can really get behind. I know that I feel less inhibited than ever (if that’s even possible) – less concerned about what other people think of me and less apologetic for not being like everyone else. Getting older is liberating. Since it’s going to happen no matter what, I might as well enjoy it.
Viva la 50!