What I like about all this blogging lark is that occasionally – completely by chance – you find a post that really helps you deal with your own life, just when you need it most.
Yesterday I read a post by the K8 the Gr8 called Old My Arse, which you can read yourself at
http://www.cackaloo.com/ (can’t do links or fancy stuff like that)
It’s about two elderly ladies she picked up in her taxi on Sunday, one of whom turned out to be 91 and fit as a fiddle.
It’s entertaining, it’s uplifting, it’s got a link to a really terrific poem and I’ve written a complimentary comment on K8’s blog. But it struck such a chord with me and the way I feel at the moment that I reckoned that wouldn’t do it justice, so I’m writing a whole post about it instead (oh, and I’ve also stolen this -> photo from K8’s site).
I am 50, and not very happy about it. I hid this from myself for a long time. I refused all offers of a party, saying that it was no big deal, which I believed, but on the morning my birthday arrived I felt suddenly old.
I work in a company full of twenty- and thirty-somethings. They are terrific people, and some of them – by chance, some of the best-looking girls – have become close friends, at least to my mind. But sometimes, when I’m depressed, I wonder what they actually think of me – am I odd to insist on hanging around with them all the time, do I come across as weird (or pervy) when I spend time with them? Depression, and the paranoia that comes with it, is something I’ve fought for many years, but being 50 hasn’t helped.
I am also very conscious of the fact that I am now less than five years away from the age my mother was when she died. I realise now just how young she actually was, and how unfair it was that her life was cut so short. Back then, when I was 29, 55 seemed like a reasonable age. Now it seems just around the corner, and even the fact that my father is still going strong at 74 (and got married again two years ago) doesn’t seem to counteract the sense I have that I’m very much on the last lap.
It’s also time I admitted to myself that the health problems of last year, which led to me becoming a tinman, have left their toll on my mind. I, who was never sick, was suddenly blacking out for no apparent reason. Far from being striking-looking, I was now striking my looks, smacking my head and/or face against a variety of concrete and brick surfaces. Seven months of not knowing when it might happen next, of travelling on the Dart to the accompaniment of stares at my black eyes or scars, and of being wary of being anywhere that I couldn’t hold on to something, have left me panicky in crowds and also left me with a strange sense of feeling permanently slightly drunk, as if I’m detached from everything that’s going on around me. I think that started as a defence against terror, as again I played down the whole situation to anyone who asked.
Eventually I was diagnosed as a guy with a heart problem. As I was in my forties, this made me feel unusual. Then, in the middle of it all, I hit 50, and now I was an old guy with a heart problem – sure what could I expect?
Since the tin operation, I’ve good days and bad days. This week was not one of the good ones. I’ve written about the terrific day I had at the yacht race last Friday, but on Saturday the company had another event – 12 of the staff went water-skiing. I put my name down to go, and then found out that I wasn’t let.
It’s the first thing that I’ve wanted to do that I’ve not been allowed to, and it made me feel disabled. On Monday and yesterday everyone was talking about it, and we saw all the photos, so I was thoroughly fed up going home on the Dart.
That’s when I read K8’s post, linking to it from a comment she made on Twenty’s site. The image of these two ladies happily smoking fags, travelling the world and listening to modern music really cheered me up.
Me one day?
I know that they are women, and that men generally don’t live as long (remember that girls, when you say it’s a man’s world – and we lose all our hair) but why shouldn’t I start to think that I could live at least into my eighties? That I might actually be a grandad one day (I’ve honestly never thought about it, never expecting to actually live that long)? That I’m actually still young?
So thanks, K8. You’ve made an old man very happy.