So, today is my birthday. I’m supposed to be happy about it. However, the elation aspect of it is all a bunch of bunk.
I love these people who have rays of sunshine shooting out of their eyeballs and say things to you like, “Oh, don’t pay attention to the number that’s associated with your birthday. It’s better than the alternative!”
It’s tough to frown at flowery, cheerful, eternal optimists. Of course, I’d rather be here than in the hereafter, that’s a given. But can’t anyone just let me wallow in this number that’s less than thrilling?
My husband tries to impart his positivism about this particular birthday and aging in general by sharing something with me. I’m obviously not excited about it, and all the logic in the world won’t make me feel differently. It’s not to my liking; it’s the wrong side of forty-five.
“To quote Satchel Paige,” my husband begins…“‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’”
I know I’m in trouble when baseball quotes are coming out in the form of life’s wisdom.
“Well?” he asks. “How old would you be if you didn’t know your actual age?”
Oh, God, I think. We’re going to play a numbers game. And I’m required to answer.
I think for a moment. “Thirty-five,” I say.
“Okay, then. You feel like you’re thirty-five, so you’re thirty-five.”
Good in theory.
“Yes,” I say, tentatively. “Thirty-five.”
I feel myself lying. I have tennis elbow and runner’s knee. It will take me a millennium to lose the weight I want to lose. I used to only see silver above my shoulders in the form of necklaces, but now the color is taking over my hair. And I have a kid about to start middle school in two weeks. I can’t pretend I’m not the age I am. Didn’t we learn about the ills of deception during Catholic education?
I go upstairs and look at myself in the mirror. Holy Crap-ola, I think. You can’t stop time; that’s bloody true.
Then another Satchel Paige quote pops into my head. I’m starting to get concerned that the ghost of Satchel Paige is my birthday fairy godfather.
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter,” I hear a small voice say.
I suppose that will have to be the quote to cure my anxieties about all this birthday nonsense. I shake off the voice and make my way back downstairs adopting the attitude that I don’t care what age I am. I’ll pretend to feel thirty-five today and for the rest of the year. Hair can be dyed. Knees and elbows will heal. And my middle-school kid, well, at least he’ll be there for three years. (We won’t talk about losing weight. I’ll save that for Jenny Craig.)
I feel much better now. I breathe a sigh of relief and sip my coffee. I’m feeling empowered, and I open a birthday card.
“Happy 46th Birthday,” it reads. I stare at it.
Thirty-five is slipping away. There is no voice whispering to me now. Where the hell is Satchel when you need him?
It’s still the wrong side of forty-five.