If you are reading this on the day it hits the street, it's June 5, 2014. The Coast is celebrating its 21st birthday and therefore born in 1993, the year I turned 39. And 39 + 21 = OMG. Today I turn 60. Which I cannot fucking understand.
Please believe me when I tell you there is a glitch in the matrix. Yesterday morning I was 37.
I very well know there are many, many women in their 60s who are vital and sexy and adventurous and brave and curious. I know a number of them. They travel and take university courses and golf their asses off and write books and 10,000 other things. Susan Sarandon is 66. For the love of christ Tina Turner is 74. But, to put it poetically, that ain't me. I evolve from crank to bitch to C U Next Tuesday; less and less able to take joy from most things others seem to be able to use as a kind of spiritual renewable energy.
No other birthday has distressed me; I have spent the last two years and more aghast at this day approaching. This is in spite of my seeing time-keeping as an artificial construct: the minute hand ticks to the the top of the clock and it's one day or some hour. Then it ticks once again and it's a different day or hour. Usually not much has changed. Which is why I don't care about New Year's Eve. Probably my 16th birthday was exciting: rushing to get a learner's license; and my 18th: time to get legally drunk. Probably that was exciting, but I'm too fucking old to remember. I used to remember everything: the seating arrangement in my grade two class, every phone number, everything. Like massive icebergs calving from Antarctic glaciers, huge chunks of my memory crack and then detach. They come crashing down into the water, drift out of Smarty Pants Bay and into the Amnesia Sea off the western side of my frontal lobe. Recently someone laughed at me because I couldn't remember Hurricane Juan.
Wisdom eludes me. If becoming ancient and doddering had benefits; if my fading faculties were being replaced by something attractive, like wisdom or serenity or what the fucking ever, then I might be able to summon one tiny bit of grace about it.
On the not-so-good days if I make a mistake and look in a mirror sometimes I see my mother. On the bad days I see my ancient grandmother, and the first time that happened was a very sobering moment. Recently in the elevator of the low-income seniors' building where I live (also a worry; am I developing a variant of Stockholm Syndrome, becoming more empathetic with my neighbours, more likely to emulate them?) someone asked me if I have any grandchildren. Another first.
I am eight years older than my father ever got to be. Six years older than my sister got to be. Still 16 years younger than my mother got to be. I can't decide if I'm going to die soon, or live another 30 years, in which case I should go get a law degree or something.
I can see part of my problem. Every few years I do something really nutty. When I turned 50 I bought a bicycle and rode down the east coast to the Carolinas. When I turned 56 I walked from Montana to Maine. Two years ago I started thinking about what I could do this year, to remind myself that I'm still alive and not epoxied to a recliner watching Criminal Minds reruns. I came up with bicycling in India. The unending news of women being raped in India cooled my jets for that and it just never got replaced by anything else. That's a mistake. I think I need to do something nutty. I actually am in the process of some nuttiness, but it doesn't involve leaving town, and the miseries and problem-solving on an expedition are clearer and more easily repaired than those at home.
Today I'm going to see my therapist and later to a party where there will be kittens. Then I think I'll have a look at Google Maps and see where the wind could blow.
On her bad days, JANE KANSAS looks like her ancient grandmother.