Here’s to getting older. Here’s to no longer being called precocious. You’re expected to be smart now and understand how things work. But you liked knowing words no one else knew, words you learned in books no one else read. Specialness dissipates with every wrinkle, or so you think.
Here’s to getting older in a society that cherishes youth and the “hot new thing.” Here’s to becoming a “cold old thing.” Here’s to burning your scalp to rid any signs of grey, injecting poison into your saggy flesh and lifting things on your body that just want to hang close to the ground. It’s hard to know if you’re doing things for yourself or if it’s really for something else. Do you really despise pubic hair, worn eyes and ashy hair? Maybe you do. You probably don’t.
Here’s to getting older and loving someone who makes sense, to picking out a partner who will wash your underwear if you’re old and can no longer help it. Your lover will be quite different from the ones you were with when you were younger. Those people didn’t “do” accidents. They only did perfect supple flesh, no wrinkles and high sex drives. You were an able-bodied prize back then. Now you no longer attend the fair.
Here’s to getting older and having a place that feels like a home rather than a temporary living space. Those kinds of places never felt quite as warm, did they? Growing up, you’d enter a family’s home and wonder if you would ever get it right, if you could ever convey a sense of security and closeness with a home. You would study the knickknacks, the subtleties, the expensive china. This was the kind of home that always had band-aids, butter, flour, a good cutting knife. You remember cutting your finger in your apartment when you were twenty-two and having no band-aids, only some Polaroid film and tomato sauce so you had to let it bleed. It’s okay though. You had blood to spare back then.
Here’s to getting older and knowing stuff—how to reduce a temperature, having your own sickness remedies, saving receipts for your taxes, understanding health insurance and homeowner fees and 401Ks. Your mind is just cluttered with this knowledge of what to do when you get sick, laid off or die. You’re preparing for that awful moment that could change your life forever. March to it, back away, approach with the receipts. “I have receipts for this heart attack. I have cards. So many cards.”
Here’s to getting older and feeling invisible. You enter a restaurant and realize you’re the oldest one there at age 54. What happened? Where did everyone go? Florida? People don’t look at you on the street anymore and check you out. They avert their eyes and keep walking towards a tiki bar. You miss feeling desirable. You miss being a target audience for an ad campaign that didn’t involve an early-bird dinner. You want someone to sell you Diesel jeans. Please let someone convince you into buying Diesel jeans.
Here’s to getting older and having memories that can stun you like love. Here’s to knowing all of your important friends for more than two decades. Life started to matter for you 20 years ago. You remember when your memory had only been vivid for the last four years. You were seventeen and could only think back to middle school. Everything before that was just a spec, a blur of bicycles and playing and scraped knees and tears and science class and your next-door neighbor who you used to play with. Life has meant something to you for so long now. Fuck.
Here’s to getting older and having a strong sense of self. Things don’t wreck you in the way that they used to. You don’t spend Saturday afternoons hungover in bed crying about someone who won’t return your phone calls. Those afternoons were wasted, just dripped away into a fast dissolve. You wish you could bottle those hungover afternoons you spent in your twenties and shake them up, yell and tell them to fuck off!
Here’s to getting older and possibly creating someone else, reliving those moments through their eyes and loving them so much more than you love yourself. Yes, here’s to that.
Here’s to getting older and “getting” your mother and father. Here’s to enduring quiet tragedies and getting off the roller coaster.
Here’s to getting older and always being healthy. Health is the most important thing we have. You don’t realize that until it’s taken away from you and you’re left with nothing. Seriously. Nothing. You’re reduced to mush and life as you know it could be over. Cherish those limbs and unclogged arteries while you can, kids.
Here’s to grey hair, shit, life, death, kids, tabloid magazines, Florida, Willamsburg, children, lack of sex, tumors, warmth, and receipts. Yes, here’s to that.