Robert holds me in the last perfect peace of morning. Those moments before the sun steals the amber of porch lights and conquers the winding rum of dawn. Outside our bedroom window I hear my new neighbor clearing snow from his sidewalk.
I’ve awakened to find myself and my generation a day older. I’m acutely aware of the laugh lines time has carved into our faces. Did anyone else notice how old Generation X looked at the Oscars? There was our girl, Patricia Arquette, born in 1968, and our boy, Ethan Hawke, born in 1970. The Class of 1980s. We’re no longer wandering in a Reality-Bites wilderness. We’re just wandering. Trying to maintain a grip on the here-and-now.
Who knew that as we grew older the world would become less perfect? We thought things would get better with each new year. The way the Depression melded from the Dirty Thirties to the Fabulous Forties, the Nifty Fifties, the Sexy Sixities, the Heavenly Seventies. But, then came the Fraidy Eighties and terrorism over Lockerbie was just the beginning of this never-ending crescendo of violence that we now realize began with the dawn of man.
You Don’t Have To Be Everything To Everybody
At times, I feel carved out by it all. My spirit clamped by the locking pliers of time. Past, present, future. There’s no way to adjust the spacing of these jaws, to extend my existence beyond a certain life expectancy. So, I let joy wash over me. I’m ecstatic to be alive even as I muster courage to face people who can’t stand me.
There is no need to ask the rhetorical question: What did I ever do to you?
The reasons don’t matter, and besides you already know them.
You supported candidates and causes they didn’t like.
Took positions they opposed.
You went to all the wrong places.
Or stood your ground.
Maybe gave too much.
Or gave too little.
You didn’t show up.
Or, when you did, you discovered you arrived without the password.
You have been in equal measure too dark for some, too holy for others.
I peek out the window to spy on my neighbor. I give thanks for the snow. I hold Robert in my arms, remembering him as he was when I met him in 2002. We seemed so old then, in a race to lap up the last few days of young adulthood. Quick, let’s get married. Quick, let’s have some kids. Quick, let’s make up for all the time we lost or wasted.
Our lives are a mix of mercy and miracles. Unbelievably, we never gave up at the same time. Then one day, we looked around and found we’d grown to love each other, for better or worse.
I roll out of bed and sally forth – at least in the direction of the coffee pot. In the darkness, I stumble over one of my crocs and waste five minutes of precious dawn looking for the other one.
Moments earlier I was still in bed, glad my ovaries have not been eaten by cancer. Glad my heart is still beating. Glad the schoolyard has not been bombed. Now, I’m looking for my missing shoe.
I pull on a pair of Uggs, the perfect complement to my leopard pajama pants and red flannel nightgown. I pull on my coat and head outside to photograph the quiet street and this morning that will never come again. This midlife will meld into old age and never be repeated, and even if I learned it later than I should have I still learned it. You don’t have to be everything to everybody. It’s such a relief.