It's 4:50 AM. I'm in my office with my coffee. I've already emptied the dishwasher, made coffee, taken the morning's ration of pills, and done the requisite teeth-brushing. I'm wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and fuzzy footies that I will change later, when I'm warmer and likely to stay that way. It's one of the things I've learned with growing old...older. My body thermometer is out of whack. What feels good at 4:50 will be way too hot at 10:15, and I'll change. I used to toss clothes into the laundry after a single wearing. Not so anymore; even in the age of Covid, they won't get dirty in four or so hours unless I've gone somewhere that leaves me feeling uncomfortable..
Most of the time, I like being older. I wouldn't give up the experiences I've had, the places I've been, the people I've loved and still do. I've had my heart broken often enough to know it still works even if all the pieces don't go back together the way I'd like them to. I'm able to enjoy and appreciate art, music, ice cream, and the daily beauty fix of sunrise and sunset. While my joints tend to hurt, they all still move. They probably creak, but my hearing is compromised enough I can't hear them.
Some of the joys in being a septuagenarian are unexpected. Google is one--how did you think I knew how to spell septuagenarian? Dressing however you want is another. It's especially fun to wear what a blonde 20-something on Facebook assures you is completely wrong for you.
But I wasn't going to write about the joys today, because as important as they are, there are other things, too, that aren't so joyful.
Sleep is...odd. The night before last I slept nine hours, while last night it was around five. I like five better, but sometimes nine is necessary and I don't get to choose. At 3:15 this morning, I was awake and worrying about my sister and brother and my niece. About the farm where we grew up. About my friend in Kansas and my friend in Georgia and my sister-in-law whose immune system...isn't.
I repeat things. Incessantly. Or maybe it's not incessant--I don't really remember. If I remembered, I wouldn't repeat them. So, if I'm telling you the same story for the seventh or tenth time, do us both a favor and stop me.
There is a constant feeling of time running out, made more prevalent by the pandemic and the vitriolic politics of these painful days. I want, for the I-don't-know-how-manyeth time, truth and respect. I will give it to you, too--it shouldn't be a one-way street.
While I'm not afraid of dying, I want living to be healthy and productive and a good time. I want dates with my husband, lunches with girlfriends, and oh-so-much time with my kids and grandkids.
This is what happens when you sit down in front of the computer screen at 4:50 AM. It finds you pensive and reflective and wishful. The coffee is especially good then and it's surprising to find how much of it you can drink in the first couple of hours of the day. Before daylight, I've had more cups than I usually have by noon.
Have I mentioned yet that I hate Daylight Savings Time? No? Well, I do.
It's 9:50 AM now. I'm on my...not sure which cup. The autumn colors are still vibrant out the west window. Birds are squabbling over the suet in the feeders. The cats sit at the door of the office, checking on me. Duane texts from the house. Doing okay?
It is the next day now. I've done what people my age do--I've gone to the hospital for a mammogram and a bone density exam. And I've sat here and wondered why I can't make this particular column work. Because...you know, it's not.
I think it's because, although I'm no stranger to complaining, that's really not what you come here to see, is it? All those not-so-joyful things are just incidental in the long run. They're there, they have to be addressed, but then we can go on to bigger, better, and happier things. If we think we're running out of time, we just need to make better use of what's there. By laughing, say, or making cookies, or volunteering. Or by telling good stories, even if you're repeating yourself.
There are always joys.
Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.