I just survived another birthday.
I didn’t write about it before because I was grumpy. Remember how fun birthdays used to be? As children, certainly, but even after as we grew. Sure there were stumbling years where mortality started to sink in, but I remember fake outrage at the AARP card before I turned 50. How DARE they? All the jokes.
There was no fake outrage at the Medicare card that showed up in my mailbox a full 3 months before my birthday. It made sense; I guess you have a 6 month window to get supplemental care if you so desire (I don’t). I was appalled. The card first lived in a box under other important paperwork and to-do stuff, like passport renewal and Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons. It lived there, hidden away yet taunting me as I piled more and more important papers on top (bills to pay, catalogs, etc)
But it had to eventually emerge and as of the first of August (even though my birthday was the 9th), landed in my wallet. My regular insurance card supplanted by thus usurper. If anything happens to me I am covered, but at what cost? My dignity? My youth?
You know, I am staunch in the “Medicare for all” camp. It makes so much sense to me and everyone deserves health care, come on! But I take no personal joy in it because, for me, that stupid card only means one thing…..that I am OLD. Many people would be happy to be old. They are all dead, I’m not. I’m just old. I get it. I also get to feel what I feel and bitch about it here, so shut the F up! (And you know I am talking to myself there, right?)
I sat and discussed my childhood with another “person of a certain age” the other day. We talked of hours of free time. Of running loose in the world. Of telephones that you had to answer or….nothing! The advent of car phones, answering machines, personal computers…all of those things we take for granted now but only just happened in our life times. (We do live in amazing times and I can be properly grateful). As old people do, we spent time complaining about the kids who grew up on this stuff, take it for granted, always have their faces in their phones, etc. (crotchety, grumpy….OLD).
I’m thinking about this because I volunteered to coordinate a group gift. One of the women on my gratitude list is pregnant and we are all pitching in for a gift card (she has everything else). And everyone is saying they’ll Venmo me the money.
I don’t even do online banking.
I write checks, and put stamps on envelopes.
Hopeless. Hopeless with some catching up to do I guess.
I have been thinking a lot about that simpler life lately. The ease of it. I know some of you can relate. I remember years ago saying that very soon the sign of true power would be to not need or want to be so tethered, to be able to ditch the phone. That hasn’t really come true, but on a personal level it has. I turn my phone off to go to yoga and sometimes don’t turn it back on all day. I do that on purpose, but I can also tell someone trying to get in touch with me “oops, forgot” and get away with it. I don’t want to be at everyone’s beck and call. When I go out with a friend my phone goes off, I don’t want to be disturbed as we chat. Although I am disturbed, because I look around and see tables full of people looking at their phones instead of each other, not talking, not being together. Little ones on iPads at 2 years old. (YES! I know I sound like an old codger…but doesn’t it bother you?)
I had so much freedom growing up. It’s startling, really. And a big part of that was freedom from worry, from always thinking the world was falling apart, from fear of a random tweet blowing up the world. There was TV, there was news, but it came slowly, without scrolls at the bottom of the screen that you have to read as the talking heads give you even more news. Without moment by moment updates on Twitter and FB. I feel like I just lived. I feel like there are a few decades of people that shared that with me and now it is gone. Done. From the 90’s forward the world has changed so much. I’m not going to label it bad or good, but I do know that meditation and yoga and wellness as an umbrella have become big business, because people need to escape, somehow. Rates of alcoholism and drugs are sky high. And as all these great innovations happen the world just gets (or seems to get) worse.
See? Gramma Mish is on her soapbox, let’s all humor her and then we can get her something soft to eat, right?
Except, no. I’m writing on my laptop. I’m drinking my morning coffee, about to get ready for my personal yoga class. I teach 5 classes over the next 4 days. I have errands to do, life to live. I have cool music to choose for my playlists. I just cleaned all the wood floors in my apartment. I’m reading 3 books. I’m young. I’m active.
I’m not the 65 that my ancestors were. I may have years to live because of what we know about health and medicine. That medicare card in my wallet.
I’m not sure that excites me. Not that I want to die but it is uncanny, unnatural. I spend a lot of time jealous of younger women, not for their looks but for their possibilities. Those things get smaller for me every year, even as I stay healthy. I don’t do any kind of plastic surgery or botox or anything. I recently let my hair go and am disappointed about how little grey I have . I want to be older and be ok with it. I don’t want to be confused by or averse to Venmo. I don’t want to envy others their youth or their husbands or anything. I understand my life is pretty ok, but I am hurtling toward attrition…does that make sense? I become less and less relevant as I age, and yet I don’t age the way I think I am supposed to, or even wanted to.
I want to be a fat, white haired gramma. Not even trying to be relevant. Wrinkling my nose at the latest music vs. working it into my playlists. Arguing with some even crotchety-er grammpa. I want to be retiring out of state like everyone I know. Someplace beautiful and slow, where I can lie around and read and not feel I am missing out on something . Maybe I could garden. Maybe I could take naps.
I’m complaining about a sweet life; I have a sweet life. I’m complaining about Medicare when millions would kill to have it. It’s ridiculous. but it’s real. I don’t understand it all. I need to make peace with it all.
I get this way when it’s time for a shift, and maybe that’s it. Another shift, another re-invention. What could it possibly be though? How many more do I have in me? I’m tired. And I am lonely.
I guess I’ll go research Venmo.