Monday, January 21, 2013

Birthday Blues


When I was a little girl, my birthday was a big deal. It was actually a day that I looked forward to. However, with each passing year, that has changed. The older I get, the more I dread the big B-day. In my 40s and even when I turned 50 I tried to be gracious about this whole aging thing.

But now that I'm on the closer side to 60 than I am to 50, I can't be that nonchalant about birthdays. In fact, I'm mad about getting old and I'm not going to hide my outrage over the inevitable any longer.

In the midst of this pissed-off feeling over turning 56,  I have started to stoop low. Last Saturday night while listening to a live band, this guy said: Well you and I are about the same age--in our late '40s--that's why we like this kind of music. In the past, I would have proclaimed my age proudly and then ask: How old are you? But I just couldn't bring myself to do that. Instead, I  silently nodded and smiled. After all, I wasn't lying, and what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

So this is how it starts. I have become that dreaded woman who won't reveal her age. I always honored Oprah's disdain for this kind behavior. Oprah says your age is just a number. Got that right. It's a number on your driver's license, your passport and your birth certificate that announces to the world how over-the-hill you are getting. No one wants to be perceived as old. That's why it gets harder to throw that number out there.

A lot of it has to do with vanity. But it also has to do with the incongruence between how you think and how you look. My mom once told me: In my mind, I am still 21. At the time she said this, it scared me a bit. But now I totally get it. Last Saturday night, I still felt like the 20-year-old who would dance the night away under a mirrored disco ball. Never mind that I was huffing and puffing after two straight dance sets.

It's tough when your head and body no longer match up. Which is why I defend my decision to pretend that I am 48 years old this year instead of 56. When it comes to birthdays, denial can be a good thing.

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