Living life in the Middle Ages

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 11, 2001

The year that I was in the third grade and going to class out in the old &uot;barracks&uot; building at Greenville Elementary, our teacher, Mrs. Pressley, gave each of us a desk calendar for our Christmas gift.

It was a small black plastic affair with little white dials you moved with your thumbs to set the right day and date each morning. I recall playing with mine that cold winter’s day and setting it for December 25, 1999.

1999! Golly, I would be 39 years OLD by then — it seemed an impossibly huge amount of time and space I would have to transcend to reach that ripe and venerable age.

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It is now July 2001 and ripe and venerable old me is wondering, &uot;Where did all those years go — did they sneak by me while I wasn’t looking ?&uot;

Your perspective about age certainly changes as the years go by. When you’re very small, of course, any of the giants towering over you seem like they were probably around before the dinosaurs met their demise.

Teens look with disdain at those who’ve reached &uot;30-something&uot; as &uot;over the hill.&uot;

By the time YOU get through your third decade on earth, &uot;old&uot; becomes a term that applies only to the over-65 crowd.

My mom, who is a feisty 76, will tell you a person has to be &uot;at least 85&uot; to be really &uot;old.&uot;

Life in the middle ages can be sort of difficult to define. You are still comparatively young in the eyes of most of the senior citizens out there and pretty old to the youth.

I can remember telling my former students my age a couple of years ago and watching their awestruck expressions. For whatever reason they had not imagined me quite THAT old.

I could almost hear the sound of clanking shovels as the gravediggers shifted the earth behind me so I, in my decrepit state, could take one step back and topple right in — I have relegated myself to the idea of being &uot;ma’am&uot; now instead of &uot;miss.&uot; I freely confess my glasses are bifocals (ah, but in the tradition of all good baby-boomers, they’re the &uot;no-line&uot; kind).

As for my hair color, let’s put it this way: I was a natural white-golden blonde once upon a time and nowadays I’m simply trying to return to my roots.

I admit my skin has lost some of the elasticity of youth.

I really hate to wave my bared arms at someone for fear that said extremities will keep on flapping in the breeze long after I intended for them to stop.

Yes, I am getting older. There’s no denying it. But I can honestly say I have no desire to play with a magical calendar and somehow turn back the hands of time.

I find that here in &uot;the middle ages&uot; I am much more comfortable with — well, me, than I used to be. (Not complacent, mind you. I don’t ever want to be a smug or self-satisfied type if I can help it.)

Once upon a time I used to be terribly critical of a lot of things about myself — my looks, my talents, my personality and so on. Now I’m finally learning to accept myself — my basic shyness, my cellulite, my &uot;loopy&uot; sense of humor — all the qualities that go with being me.

Oh, I’ll keep working on improving myself in the ways I can but I’ll also try hard not to worry about what I can’t do a darned thing about.

One other thing — as my body continues to fall pray to gravity and my mind plays those nasty tricks on me, I’ll just keep praying for a strong, resilient and elastic heart and soul to carry me through the mid years and into the adventures beyond.

That — and a good body briefer.