Autumn has come on me slowly. You can't help but notice milestones like your fiftieth birthday, but it takes a while to understand the significance. A couple of months ago I realized that I've crossed into new territory where the folks are mellow and welcoming.
We all know that you can't escape assholes at any age. Similarly, the acceptance and good humor you find among friends is not age related either. Being over fifty, though, informs your perspective on life. It's kind of like Geometry class in High School - you struggle and struggle to understand what the hell all this stuff is supposed to mean, and then in an instant, something clicks in your head and things start falling into place.
Things start falling into place when you're over fifty kind of like the leaves falling from the trees. Sometimes brilliantly colored leaves swirl around gracefully in a clear blue sky. Other times a cold blast of wind hurls a bunch of crusty brown shit in your direction. It's just the fall, and when you are prepared for the conditions, you simply deal with whatever comes your way.
Many fall days are so warm and sunny, it's easy to believe summer is lasting forever. Then a few cold, gray days let you know winter is coming soon.
On my trip to Austin I had to face the winter because there's no denying people are going to start to die. A friend's dad died right before Christmas, and one of the dearest friends I'll ever have has diabetes. People can live decades with diabetes, but given that his youthful drug use was indicative of alarming self destructive tendencies, and now he's drinking sugar soda while he gives himself an insulin shot - it sure looks like self-destruction is here to stay. Other friends will surely get sick, especially since a couple of them are still smoking like chimneys. Sooner or later, my own dad will pass, and sooner or later, so will I.
Driving down 290 back to Houston, I was listening to an album called Drag Queens and Limousines by Mary Gauthier. Between the fiddle and the chorus, "A Lifetime ain't no time at all," this song made me cry and cry and cry.
Share Lifetime by Mary Gauthier
I wasn't all together sad, though, because bawling to the stereo is delightfully satisfying, and mostly life is long and full of surprises. The title song from the album got to me too
Mary's life and friends are more colorful than mine, but there's a line in this song which felt particularly pertinent during all this thinking about life paths and people dying:
Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do
and pray that the people you love catch up with you.
I was thinking specifically about that guy who won't talk to me. I haven't seen him in real life since January, but he showed up so much in the statcounter that it came to feel like a kid playing ring and run with my doorbell. No matter what I say or do, however, he won't talk to me which is a drag because he's one of those people I'll always love no matter what. Most likely, he doesn't understand about that stuff at all which is why I decided to leave him, figuratively speaking, out on the road to Ithaca (Marijuana and Mercy, Stonerdate 11.08.09). I'm rolling along own path and can't get bogged down by somebody else's baggage. He can catch up or not.
Looking at my personal development over the last year - Velvet turning 18 and graduating from high school, me turning 50, getting fired from that piece of shit job and landing firmly on my feet, the major changes when Velvet went away to Tree Hugger Academy which resulted in my getting a gold star in parenting from his shrink - and wrapping up my own therapy after 16 years of work to recover from suicidal depression - I feel a lot like the little triangle in a book called The Missing Piece Meets The Big O
I'm like that now. It's taken a life time, but like Mary says, a life time ain't no time at all - and the nice thing about being fifty these days is that, if you can believe AARP, fifty is the new thirty. I feel pretty young and pretty healthy, and I feel kind of old and kind of wise. All things considered, that's about as good as it gets.