As the big winter storm barrels down on my hometown in Alabama, I am in San Antonio on a cold, rainy, lazy day on the Riverwalk, with an old friend who is celebrating her birthday today, February 11, the Big One. Problem is, for people of a certain age, “The Big One” is, what, ambiguous maybe? More “big ones” are over my left shoulder -- behind me -- than in front of me. So, I reflect on the Big Ones.
The big problem with old friends is they just keep getting older. Some you walk in lock step with; others you watch from behind as they try to catch up. Some, likely fewer, you’re trailing and watching closely from behind.
Sixteen: now that was a Big One. We discovered the freedom in being able to get in a car and go. Twenty-one: no more fake IDs. Now what?
Moving into our thirties was big, but the Biggest One in the thirties may be an individual thing. For me it was 33. Why? I don’t know.
I don’t particularly remember turning 40 or feeling old for the rest of that decade. I was concentrating on my kids who were fast approaching their teenage years. Gasp. Dread.
Fifty: now that is a Big One for most people, mainly because 50 plus 50 is 100. This fact hits hard because it means you’ve passed “middle age.” This is about the time many people begin wondering where all the time went and questioning accomplishments or lack thereof. It means that you now have “old friends.” You begin to think in terms of decades rather than “several years ago.” It is often the Great Awakening to where life is heading.
By fifty, life has become very real for many people. Maybe you lose a good friend, a husband, some kinds of “magical thinking,” even a child. Illusions begin falling away at a fast pace. Visits from wrinkles, aches, pains, gray hair, weigh gain turn into a permanent arrangements.
At some point we experience that first encounter with a person in the mirror we don’t recognize.
My husband and I spent our fifties discovering the heartbreak of having a drug addicted child. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how this could happen, how I could pull her back from the edge, what I did to cause this, what drug addiction really is, whether another treatment program would do any good, grieving for a wasted life.
No doubt, 60 is a big one, topped only by 65. Objectivity is a bit hard, as I am still in them. I know this much: Entering your 60s is entering the Age of Enhancement. Spittin’ Grits will be more specific about his topic in future posts.
Meanwhile, here’s to my old friend. It’s her 50th: Happy Birthday and may you have many more Big Ones.
Special Note: Spittin’ Grits will take a short holiday for a week or so in order to get some technical issues solved and straightened out on the computer. Thank you for visiting and please come back.
Above, Tower of the Americas (far left), San Antonio, from the hotel balcony.