There’s a lot in my life that I could probably handle better. A lot better.
I’m not perfect, which is good or bad news, depending on what side you fall where perfection is concerned.
What I do know is that with the arrival of my 47th birthday, I’ve spent a lot of time like this:
I realize that it’s much better to feel like this: (watch the video, please…it’s the best)
In sorting through the emotional state I’m in, two things occurred to me. The first is that no matter what the magazines and morning news programs say, 47 is NOT the new 37. 47 is itself. Three years closer to 50. In life, certain things need to be accepted so they can be moved on from . I have some regrets, I guess. There are things that you don’t get do overs on, or second chances for. The things I regret not doing are the things that I’m physically incapable of at this point – and no, I’m not talking about climbing mountains or learning to fly. I can still do those things. I can write a novel good enough to publish, travel the whole world and any number of things that aren’t attached to the inexorable ticking of a clock that no one can stop, no matter how they try to fool themselves into thinking they can.
I can’t give my son a brother or sister, and that was something I always wanted to do. I wanted him to have someone to grow up with, and yes, there are options that would solve the sibling problem quite well (should I suddenly become a whole lot wealthier than I am right now) but having two siblings that are 14 to 20 years younger than I am, I understand the difference. It takes a long time to catch up to where you’re finally peers. I made lots of little choices after my son was born; there were so many moments when the road forked and I chose the way that pushed the door shut a little more. A marriage erodes, you don’t want to bring another child into a bad situation and suddenly you’re 40. Maybe, there are a few grace years, but by 47, it’s game over. I had a dream when I was 19 years old of my late Nanny, holding the hand of a little girl with dark hair and green eyes. She smiled and told me I’d meet that girl someday, and I think I let life postpone or possibly cancel that meeting forever.
I pray for menopause now, because I’m tired of cramps and hormones. I’m tired of being bone weary for two weeks. There’s no promise of future fertility to make it all worthwhile.
It’s a tease.
It’s a waste and I find myself hating waste of anything more and more.
The second thing is that yes, things have been hard for quite a long time, but other people have certainly had it worse. The other day, my boss (the best) and I got to work at the same time. For whatever reason, I hadn’t taken my sunglasses off yet and she smiled at me and said “Good morning, Jackie O!” and I laughed. As a style icon, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is a hard one to top. I saw her once, in the late 1980’s, in the street outside of the Doubleday Publishing offices. New York City is a great place to celebrity watch, because it’s always a surprise (One day, I’ll share the time I watched Demi Moore try to celebrity her way to the front of a line at a midtown GAP). Back to Ms. Onassis, though. She was talking to a man in a very elegant suit and they were walking to a waiting car. I can’t remember exactly what she was wearing, but just how amazing she looked. I’d seen her in school history books from the Kennedy years in the White House, but in person, she was striking.
What effect does losing two husbands, one under such traumatic and nation changing circumstances, losing children to miscarriage, wrangling with a bitter stepdaughter over a fortune, and all the other drama that Ms. Onassis had to see her way through, have on someone? As near as I can tell, having only a casual knowledge of her life, she somehow sailed through it all like a lady. She aged gracefully until cancer claimed her, and thank God, didn’t have to bury her son. Other than being a brunette of French and Irish descent, plus an interest in literature, I have nothing in common with this woman. She was educated, well bred, cultured, sophisticated and born into a life of privilege that I don’t know the first thing about. I can’t get an Ivy League education, work as a photographer, marry two powerful men, raise two children after the worst kind of public trauma, parlay my love of literature and Ivy League education into a career as a respected editor and publisher. I can only learn from the public persona, which was always gracious, gentle and elegant.
I want to be like that.
I’m ending this with her own words, my mentor in absentia: