Summer's paradox at a distance.
Randal put some flowers in his hair.
UPDATED: Geoffrey takes us back to the beginning.
Forty-six is a weird age. Not weird like when you're twelve and itching to be a teenager or you're fifteen and anxious to get your driver's license or when you're between eighteen and twenty-one, the time of being an adult who can get married and fight wars for rich people, but you can't drink alcohol. Legally.
No forty-six, for a woman, at least, is weird because it's the time when you're body is shifting gears from being a potential baby-maker to being a walking exhibit of good and bad choices. It even has its own capitalized name. The Change.
I'm going to go into some personal stuff here so if you're bothered by periods and such, please step away. I'm not in a mood to wrap reality in rainbows and unicorns for anyone. Because I'm 46.
First - this isn't because I just turned 46 although knowing that I'm closer to being fifty than I could have every imagined I'd be, has been a bit of a shock. The reality is that I could have written this post when I was 45 and it will likely be relevant when I'm 47, too.
My body is definitely changing so what do I do? Well, I ask my husband stupid questions like "We didn't have some kind of sperm accident that I've forgotten, did we?"
To which he rolls his eyes and utters a denial and a number that makes it abundantly clear that he's keeping track of how many times we've had sex in the last month.
So where's my period?
The first time this happened, I freaked out. Like when I had sex with my boyfriend in the back of his Chevelle and we counted on his good lord and the pull out method. My period would be late and I'd go into a self-flagellating panic. I was a smart girl with a promising life ahead of me, why on earth would I let an unsheathed penis within six feet of my vagina?
Every time I went to the toilet, I closed my eyes and hoped for the little telltale signs of a bit of pink on the tissue. Please oh please, I prayed to no one in particular, let my uterus shed its lining!
And here I am again. Without my trusty IUD. With pretty much the same careless contraceptive methods that were the hallmark of my teens. And I'm wondering if I'm going to end up with an Oopsy Daisy baby. The horror. I'm over the parenting thing. If I could give Sophie an express ticket to eighteen? In a heartbeat. Selfish? Oh yeah. Think I care? Let's just say if I had baby advice to offer it's this - if you want more than one, do it bam, bam, bam! Four or five years between three kids means I've been at this for twenty-one years and I'm in for the hard stuff for another five with no time off for good behavior.
I love them. Of course, I love them, but I'm ready to be living the life in those Toyota commercials where the empty nesters go horseback riding and dancing and, by god, I won't be satisfied until I've held hands with my love while we sit side by side in matching claw-footed bathtubs admiring the sunset.
So what does this have to do with flowers? Well, I'll tell ya. It might be a stretch, but I'll do my best.
Just keep repeating to yourself "The sweet flower of youth" and you'll get the idea.
Some of you know what Pinterest is, but if you don't here's a link. Right click it and open it in a new tab or window so you can stay here and read my really important words. Go on, I'll give you a sec to get the gist.
Back? Good. So here's the thing - some of Chloe's friends and I follow each other on Pinterest and it's delightful because they are lovely young women with so much promise and talent. I adore them. But there's a dark side to this and here it is: Pinterest is my daily reminder that not only is my flower fading, but that there will come a point when they - those beautiful, intelligent young women - will burst forth with their own flowers of fertility and there's no holding it back. Biology won't let us no matter how many bargains we offer. Where we leave off, they'll begin and so it goes, Kurt.
The itch to mate is taking them by their smooth-skinned hands and leading them toward marriage and motherhood. They're pinning ideas for how their houses will look, wedding ideas, wedding reception ideas, and yes, baby ideas. Sigh.
I love it that they can use technology to visually dream, but sigh. And as an aside, boy am I glad that this kind of thing didn't exist when I was twenty and torturing my own mother with how my life would be so damned superior to the lame choices she'd made. Holy white sofas in high rise apartments, she'd be laughing maniacally and sending me links to all kinds of big ideas that never materialized.
I mentioned this to the Voice of Reason who once again rolled his eyes and reminded me that I was twenty-two when we married and furthermore, by the ripe old age of twenty-five was so desperately in the clutches of the biological need to procreate that I bit a hole in a used condom and inserted into my vagina.
How annoying of him to use my own history to illustrate a point.
So what is it that bothers me about seeing Chloe's friends pinning their dreams on marriage and babies and House Beautiful?
All of it. None of it. It's a reminder of things done, undone and not done. It's my friend who divorced at forty-one and shared with me that she'd heard envy expressed by so many women our age. It's the middle-aged lament is this all there is? It's the grinding sameness of every day because I'm feeling trapped and need someone else to blame because that silver-haired chick in the mirror is busy craving a return of her eighteen year old face unlined by time, stress and sun. It's the emotional adolescence of wanting what I want when I want it, consequences be damned. To blithely ignore the needs of others for a change, to eradicate the contractions can't and won't and shouldn't from my vocabulary so I can finally reach that much rumored potential.
And of course, on my worst days, I want my youth back but with the caveat that I get to take today's knowledge with me.
Because, let's face it, age does give us the gift of experience. I would only want to go if I knew that I could go confident that most of what people say isn't very well thought-through so I shouldn't take it personally. That not everyone is going to like me and that's okay. That it's fine to wear that skirt, to toss out those shoes, to leave the dishes in the sink, to plant my ass in a chair and read a book, to phone that friend, to take that trip, to leave the sadness for another day, to write with abandon, to tell that boss no, to laugh off that joker, to skip the fries and have the milkshake, to say yes to this dress, but not that one.
This isn't about regret. This is about learning. This is about looking at where I am now and figuring out what comes next because, well, fifty is kind of what I see as my personal halfway mark. And there's still so much to do, you know?
But first there are some pressing issues to consider. Do I buy a case of pregnancy tests just to be safe? What I don't use, I could hand out at high schools that teach abstinence only. I won't tempt the fates by wearing light colored pants, but how am I supposed to go on without blaming my chocolate cravings on hormones? That has been part of my personal narrative for so long, it will be like learning a new language.
Maybe I've won the hormonal lottery. My periods were always light and painless. I got pregnant easily. My pregnancies were fairly uneventful if you overlook a little bed rest here or there which was probably my body telling me to lay off the cleaning jags anyway. Is it possible that my uterus just closed for business and didn't leave a forwarding address? I've had one or two things that felt like hot flashes, but otherwise The Change for me has been a breeze. Goodness me, I can't believe I typed all that. I might as well have just done this:
Dear Trouble, come and get me.
What kind of cycles have you guessing?