My birthday is coming up, y’all.
Yup, this summer girl was born in November.
You know what that means.
Yes, my parents got busy around Valentine’s Day.
But it also means this year I turn 55.
Well, kind of.
Lucille Ball once said:
“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.”
How much do I Love Lucy?
Here’s the 411.
When I first started teaching, I was just a few years older than some of my 12th grade students!
When I introduced myself, I made a point of tacking on a few extra years.
I said I was 25.
(Seven extra years seemed like the right amount of padding.)
When I moved to New Orleans, I maintained this tradition. I felt I needed the cushion, so parents would nod and smile instead of raise disapproving eyebrows. Also, so my students would believe I was seasoned and complete my assignments without giving me grief.
I never lied to my employers. The Headmaster and English Department Chair at Metairie Park Country day School knew precisely how
green old I was when I was hired.
This year, I realized I’ve been in my 40’s for nearly twenty years.
And that made me remember my grandmother who told people she was 29.
After she stopped wearing wigs and wore her thinning hair in loose ponytails wrapped in twine, she was 29. After her eyes dulled and her skin wrinkled, she was 29. After her toenails yellowed and her remaining teeth fell out of her mouth, she was 29.
It was ridiculous.
No-one bought it. It was silly and a little pitiful.
I vowed to go the other way.
So I padded.
This year, I could tell people that I’m 55.
Because if you tack on five extra years…well, I look pretty good for 55, right?
I feel I’ve kind of caught up with myself.
These days, I am grateful for this body that continues to get me where it needs to go – even if I sometimes have headaches and get dizzy and fall down. I am grateful for my eyes, which still appreciate all the beauty around me – even if the view is a little blurry. I’ll never have pretty model’s hands, but I have four fingers that help me to tap out what I want to say. Fingers that help me punch buttons on the phone to speak to old friends and new. Fingers that are attached to hands that reach out to offer assistance, to squeeze shoulders. Hands that are attached to arms which can swallow people up in hugs. And even if my vocal cords are toasted, I realized I have these things called ears that work really well, too.
So the jig is up.
Lucy, we’re back to living honestly.
Tomorrow, I’ll be 50 years old.
Right where I’m supposed to be.
An artist, writer & teacher.
Just kidding about Survivor.
But a girl can hold onto her dreams, right?
Have you ever lied about your age? How are you doing with this growing older thing?