I was having some really, really massive anxiety about turning thirty-nine. Like, you know those nights where you can’t get to sleep and you start thinking about what it will be like to die and whether it will be scary and whether it will hurt and whether you will really exist in some way after you do and you are both struck by terror at the thought that you might and that you might not? And you sit there, filled with existential dread, because there’s no way to chicken out?
That’s how I felt about turning thirty-nine.
The thing is that I’m closing off avenues, passing by streets that I am never going to take. And, obviously, if I wanted to take those streets, I could have. So, on the one hand, I’m fine with not having gone down them. I am freaked the fuck out by the visceral realization that some of them are closed off to me forever. Can’t change my mind, make my way back to them, and take that path instead. I made these choices, so I don’t have those other ones.
I think the reason this bothers me is that I think a lot about my Grandma Doris, still alive and kicking, her mind still mostly working, her body still mostly working, singing her camp songs to herself each night as she goes to sleep in her big bed, because, when you’re ninety-two, that’s who’s left who can still sing you the songs you knew as a child–you.
Barring accident, I’m someday going to be a little old lady, like my grandmothers. And I don’t know why, exactly, but it weighs so heavily on me that I am making choices right now that will affect the ease of little-old-lady-hood of her/me, that woman who will be the one who remembers the songs my grandma sang me, who knows all the stories I know and will tell them back to me, there, in the dark, as we’re waiting for sleep to come.
I want to put us in the best possible situation. But, if I’m fucking up somehow, in some way I can’t quite see, the time is literally growing short in which I can fix that shit. If I even can. If I’ve made some wrong choices with dire consequences, it’s too late now–not to mention how late it will be when I realize it–to fix it.
That scares the shit out of me.
And yet, what can you do? One day follows another. You can’t stop it from happening. You slide through days like you slide through an icy intersection, pointing your life in the direction you hope to go, hoping you’ll get there in one piece.
So, it’s my birthday. And I’m glad. And not as freaked out as I was yesterday.