I am beginning to realize that I have passed the aging point of no return.
The first fifteen minutes of any conversation with any friend in my age group is about our ailments. Last night I had dinner with a friend who is in fabulous shape. She is turning sixty next week. She is tall and slender and solid and her skin is fabulous. I don’t think she goes out in the sun.
“Well,” I said, “you may be turning sixty, but you look fabulous. We do not look sixty, and that’s something. I remember my grandmother at sixty, and she looked really old.”
“Well, I am not okay,” she replied. “I am going to a spin class on Sunday morning.”
“No, you cannot do that! Look, I know a woman who went to a spin class, and she broke both her legs because the machine got away from her and force of the wheels just broke her legs right in half. She was in a wheelchair for weeks, with her legs straight out in front of her in casts! I’m not kidding. Wait. Why do you need to do that? You look great!”
“I can’t hop on one foot.”
This friend, unlike some of my other friends, doesn’t drink. I feel the need to tell you that right now. I’m sure you get it.
“Why do you need to hop on one foot? Haven’t we got more pressing physical things to do, like get our hair dyed, so that hopping on one foot really isn’t necessary?”
“I had water in my ear. The way you clear water in your ear is to hop on one foot.”
I gathered my thoughts for a minute.
“Well, is your ear still filled with water?”
“Then I think we can move on. Get your nails done on Sunday. Go for a walk on the beach. But do not go to a spin class with twenty-somethings whose thighs glisten as they go round and round and their hair bounces in a ponytail because it’s not dried out and filled with Moroccan Oil, which my hairdresser says I have to use if I am going to tell anyone she does my hair.” Pause. “Sue, are you with me?”
“I forgot what we were talking about.”
Which brings me to the next problem. I have to write everything down. I am not kidding. Everything. If you talk to me about anything, and you do not see me write it down, I refuse to be responsible for whether it gets done or not. I have dozens of places to write things down, and as a last resort there is always Suri, my iPhone avatar .
My beloved eighty-something Aunt Molly and I talk when I’m in the car. Three times I have promised to e-mail her info about what iPad I wanted her to buy. I love my Aunt Molly and would do anything for her. Last week when we were on the phone, she mentioned she had bought an iPad.
“Oh, that’s great,” I said. “You should have had me pick one out for you.”
Lastly, there is the fear that whatever my friends have, I have too, only worse.
“God, I went to the doctor and she said I have xliroues.”
The first question from me is always, “What are the symptoms?”
I have no idea what this disease is. I have no idea whether my friend is in trouble. But I have to know the symptoms first, because I surely have it. I am a caring person who isn’t just about herself, so this is especially upsetting.
I recognize that this is all ridiculous. We talk about how ridiculous it is.
“Can you believe all we talk about is what is falling apart?”
“I know, you would think we were old or something.”
I am in my fifty-ninth year. Pretty soon, whenever I am filling out a form, I will have to check the box that reads “59 or older,” rather than “40 to 59.” My spinning-class friend says that box should read, “59 to death.” She is right. We are in the final box on all forms.
Where did the time go? I forget where it went. But here is the lemonade ending: I intend to make the last box my longest. I intend to laugh with my friends about our ailments. I intend to cry with them when those ailments are no longer laughable. My intention to make the best of what is to come, and I believe that the people I call friends are doing the same thing. The sharing is what makes it all worth it.