In the weeks before my debut novel released, I resembled a child anticipating her jump from single digit birthdays to the doubles: 10! I could barely sleep -- my husband groaned as I slipped out of bed at 4 in the morning. I ignored him and crept away, sneaking off to self-Google in privacy.
Invitations trickled in as I waited for my launch date. Excellent, I love libraries. A fundraiser for domestic violence. Wonderful -- a perfect marriage of promotion and altruism. I could appease my inner scolding puritan while getting my book in front of people.
And then my publicist called with news of an event on book release day. Hallelujah --something to do besides scuttle from bookstore to bookstore, peeking between my fingers to see whether my book was boldly displayed up front with the big girls, or hidden deep in the back, only her sad narrow spine visible.
"What is it?" I asked, imagining a signing at the much-respected Harvard Book Store. A modest five minutes on the New England Cable News Network.
She cleared her throat. "It's a Blogtalk radio show. 'Feisty Over Fifty'."
Was she kidding? This was my release day reward? Feisty Over 'Effin Fifty?
Being nothing if not a good girl, I swallowed my teary disappointment and thanked my lovely publicist (tender in her twenties.) Okay, so I'd spend my launch day coming out of the closet. Here I am, world: feisty. over. fifty. Not that I thought anyone would believe I was a wunderkind. Have your first child at 21, and you're pretty much locked out of the lie-about-your-age club.
But did I have to wear the number on my sleeve?
With the news of my soon-to-be coming blogtalk debut, instead of obsessing over my book, I obsessed over being feisty. over. fifty. Because that's what this world does to us. It makes us squeamish about our age -- as though once we pass a certain number admitting one's age becomes indecent.
I worried. Would younger readers recoil from the book written by a woman old enough to be, yes, their proverbial mother? I don't know, but the show I'd dreaded was a delight. The host, warm, funny, smart Eileen Williams, stopped me from proceeding down my squirmy path. I remembered something. I am over fifty -- well over. Newsflash, each of us will pass through every age once. Twenty-somethings become fifty; fifty-somethings turn eighty (if they are lucky.) Why do I turn away in shame?
This is what I know:
The fifties are the years of my life. After spending my twenties and thirties playing Money Jeopardy ("Pay-Which-Bill-in August?" "What is electric, Alex?") at 58 I can write checks on time (and without needing the courage of wine to face my bank balance.) In the second half of my forties, I found the love of my life and we married just before we tumbled into fifty. My daughters and son-in-law are all kind, wise, and honorable people whose company I love. My granddaughter is healthy and, of course, the best little kid in the world.
In January, I realized an enduring dream and Lulu and Merry, those two characters who broke my heart, were brought into existence.
Life is good. I am happy. If you want to know my age, that's fine. The age closet was getting pretty uncomfortable.