Friday, May 09, 2014

Older and None the Wiser

“Hey my next thirty years I’m gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done
Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears
And I’ll do it better in my next thirty years” (Tim McGraw)

Just around the time I turned 30, I was really depressed. So, one of my older than me friends told me, at that time that “the 30’s are great. I met the love of my life in my 30’s, I got a real job and I started making real money in my 30’s. You’ll love your 30’s. Trust me”. I was dubious, then, but …she turned out to be right on all accounts.

I could have had the same reaction last month, when I entered  the last year of my 30’s, but it just so happened that Anne Lamott had something ready for me to sooth my apprehension about my advancing age – a blog right before turning 59.

What an eye opener and inspiration!

I am happy, or embarrassed, to report, that at 39 I don’t feel that old. I remember when my mom was 39 and that seemed old! And that’s another question: how are you supposed to feel when you grow old? You’ve been renting the same body for whatever long the time has been since your birth – and you have no “outside looking in” perception of what it looks like. I feel like not much changed for me, ever since I can remember.

I feel as short as when I was 4. I feel as awkward as when my grandma used to put my pig tails in huge silk bows. I feel as ugly as ever, with a big nose and coarse hair, unruly teeth in this sea of beautiful teeth Americans. I still think I have ugly legs and, as my dad points, “complicated hair”.

I behave like a complete child and spoiled brat when I want to, and I am as cold as the most frigid broad you ever meet, when I want to, as well. I still have the “stare” – whatever that is – to put one in their place with no words. Yeah, I still take myself way too seriously! Way, way so … All these moods are anything but “old and wise” – trust me.

I don’t do all the “right” things, wise, old people should do: I am not any smarter about taking care of my skin or not eating fried eggs on a weekend. I still hate icecream and chocolate, and I still love loads of mashed potatoes just the same, and I don’t take any vitamins nor my calcium and vitamin D. I am a timed bomb, you see!

I am still as paranoid as ever of people letting my cats out and them getting killed by cars! I also check the doors about 10 times before I go to bed, and I buy smelly plug-ins but I hate when they’re too strong … So I unplug them right away.

I still hate lies and liars and drunkards. And I absolutely abhor mornings! As much as I love my husband or my family, they all know to wear bullet proof vests around me at 7 AM.

I love cats and still feel that my arms are better suited for kittens than babies. I have no wisdom about how babies are born or should be raised. Really. I have opinions. Not wisdom.

I will say that not only I don’t find bad boys attractive anymore, I just have no patience for them. And I will tell them that to their faces, too. That’s the thing, I guess, with age, you’re not afraid to call the things what they are anymore. “No regrets and spit it out” summarizes me nowadays.

If given the choice of a bigger, better, more glamorous career and a short trip to the top of a mountain where I can shoot some beautiful vistas, I’d always choose the latter. Smoke of real wood in the piney crisp air of the foothills still messes with my brain, just like in my teen years.

I still love airports but I miss home more when I am away in hotels. I still like to see new places but I like coming back home, more. If my 20’s and 30’s were years of infinite quests, I think the 40’s will be the years of infinite quests for home.

When I was 6, they told me I won’t see my 20’s. Like in a good game of poker, I said “I’ll double that”. And as many times in my life, I was (almost) right, God willing. I have been living dreams and for that I am speechlessly grateful – I keep waiting, nervously, for the bubble to burst and for the lamp to stop fulfilling the wishes.

I have been lucky beyond belief and blessed beyond compare! I don’t wish anymore for much, other than for health to enjoy the good that’s given to me, and strength to handle the bad. With what I know now, I would make the same exact choices, including the “mistakes”, that I have made in the past, because they were all incredible lessons and priceless pieces of advice.

I am still learning new things everyday: after 16 years of America, I just had French toast for the first time the other day. And I still have not seen Mount Rushmore nor Yosemite. Los Angeles nor Venice Beach. I hope there is time.

16 years later, after a weird, strange, crazy, sometimes sick, American journey, I would still jump on a plane with no map, nor destination and go somewhere to start life over, if the trip promises a great reward “should things align”. As you can tell, 39 years don’t teach you much!

I have no friend who’d tell me what my 40’s would bring, but following  Anne’s example, looking back at what I have become and who I am now, things should not be that scary in the new chapter. All I can say is, just like the song says, “Lord have mercy on my next thirty years”. And with that, one foot in front of the other …

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