I started being bothered about age when I turned 30. That birthday got under my skin. I understood why though: my brother, unbeknownist to him, or my mom & dad, had forecasted my death when I was 12 years old one evening in our motel room while on vacation outside of Lake Placid, NY. They hadn't realized I could hear them talking in the other room while I was standing in the bathroom. It bothered me more deeply than I could have imagined at the time. My brothers concern was my weight, and he had told our parents that if something wasn't done, and soon, I would be dead by the age of 30. Standing, listening, in that small bathroom of room #12 at The High Valley motel, it bothered me but hey, 30 is a long way away.
When I hit 22 or so, it all came back on me. Each birthday would be part celebration/part countdown to D-Day. It was at once fun and ominous. Joy mixed with a morbid finish line coming ever closer.
Why would it bother me? Why would my brother's soothsaying get so under my collective skin? He was [still is] my big brother: not sure about other little brothers, but for me... he was always right, always On Point, always first to know, always Knew. In my twenties, I was fighting to be my own person and dismiss the ways of the Little Brother [even if it meant I had to go the opposite direction/take the opposing stance of him, my dad, hell-the rest of the universe]... but in the fight, I kept wondering, particularly near & on my birthday, 'could he be right?'.
At the end of my 29th year on this planet, I had a weird birthday. Weird because I wanted to enjoy it but ultimately couldn't... I was going to die that night at 11:58pm [the time of my birth, back in September of 1963].
In the end, I made it, he was wrong.
I was never angry at him [he's probably going to read this... so I better be nice anyway]. But I was left sad by it all. Sad, because no kid should hear that sort of business and have it lodged in their gray matter all those years. But it happens, we all have things implanted -whether we okay it or not- by life, experience, happenstance. And so it goes.
Another reason 30 bugged me was this: yeah I had dodged the brotherly bullet of his tarot'd conclusions, and that was good fodder for further acknowledgment that he could be & was wrong occasionally, but 30 also felt like the end of the Titanium Shield of Youth. You know [unless you're too young or stupid, or both] what I mean... that feeling of invincibility whereby you're Superman [or Wondergirl, or whatever the chick variant of The Man O' Steel is]. I felt that big time. "It's over".
40 was a bummer too. Why? Because I was firmly falling into the pit of weight, non-movement, isolation, non-independence and seeing my exit strategy in a way that a 40 year should not have to see it. My brother got it right, again, but his timing was off by a decade.
But 40 also bothered me, weight aside for a moment, because if I was to be around, I had spent at least half of my Life Ammo and was on the other side of the life-map. That, in a way, was more of a hair-on-back-of-neck-standing-up moment than the weight issues. My youth, my 'Thing', was Spent. The check had been cashed and the money blown on long-forgotten purchases. That's the one that'll keep you up at night pacing the floor.
And now at 45, even with all the work [stuff, whatever you want to call it] I've done, what bites at me is this...
The realization that you can't stop it. Ever. Time, that is. That merciless mistress of clicking, bitching time... well, she just keeps her thing going doesn't she? I can't see being 90. So that said, I'm well past halfway thru my allotted time on this cruise. Yeah, I'm enjoying it, making the most of it [or trying at least], trying my level best to suck out all the marrow from it [even the remnants of the marrow]. But it keeps counting down... like the big, endless ass of some aunt at a family reunion, the sack of time keeps dropping.
Our next door neighbor, well let me start that again... this morning I awoke to pounding in our backyard. After a paltry 5 hours of sleep that is. I walked into the kitchen and looked out the back window into the yard. Standing out there, in our yard, was our next door neighbor... removing slats of wooden fence from our fence. I dressed, walked out into the yard and said, Hi. He looked over, turned a little embarrassed red-faced, and said that he had talked to the folks we rent from and that it was okay'd for him to start replacing some of the fence slats as they were rotting in the damp PDX'ian climate.
He's 84 years old.
Thinking to myself, I don't really feel like doing this right now, it's not really my thing to do, maintenance-wise, anyway. I'm under-slept.
...can you give me a minute to get my boots and jacket? Sure, he says, the company'd be nice.
Took us an hour and a half, but we got it done. Limited conversation: he was a logger before 'the people, those environmentalists put me out of work'. He's lived in the house next to us since 1947 and seen things change, a lot.
He said he loves to work outside but won't work outside in the rain any longer. He's paid his dues in the rain he said. I agreed with him and we both laughed.
He told me he was 84 years old...
84 years old.
He told me this 12 times,
before I stopped counting.
Keep Ridin'... Always