At 57 you would think I know what my future looks like. But I don't. I'm still searching for it.
This is not your typical 50 something story. Or maybe it is. After 57 years, I realize nothing is typical and everyone has their own story.
After the birth of my two children, I stopped wearing bikinis. I was no longer into showing off my midriff. Now that I'm in my 50s and live in Florida, I can't quite give up wearing shorts but it doesn't mean I'm comfortable showing off my baggy knees.
Let's talk about knees. And backs. And fingers. Arthritis is settling in. Each day my husband and I sing a song of grunts and groans as we pull ourselves out of bed, creaking and cracking our way to the kitchen for morning coffee.
We keep a pair of reading glasses on the windowsill so we can read the cooking directions on the box of rice.
Our friends are becoming grandparents. My kids are still in college, so this makes me feel younger than I am. I felt the same way in my 40s when my friends' kids were entering high school and I was attending Christmas shows at the elementary school. "What do you mean you've never heard of Barney or the Rugrats?" I'd ask. This is one of the many magical tricks I use to fight the relentless march of time. At 57 I now find myself listening to more hip-hop, progressive bluegrass and neo-psychedelia than most of my friends.
Never one to stress over an unmade bed, I invited my friends to dinner or wine emergencies even when my house wasn't clean but now I am beginning to notice even the most neurotic of housekeepers are doing this too, because at 57 we realize it is not the pile of bills left on the kitchen counter but the precious time spent together that we will remember at the end of the evening.
Fifty seven is not only a time when you attend lots of friends' parents funerals but you begin to find yourself attending the funerals of friends.
As my uncle once said to my father at their older brother's funeral, "We're in the front row now." My husband recently lost his oldest brother and there is something about losing a sibling that sharply reminds you of your own mortality.
At 57, you finally understand that old saying, you can't please all of the people all of the time. And you realize if you are pleasing everyone, you are doing something seriously wrong.
Those of us who grew up in 1957 came of age during a time of great upheaval. The Civil Rights Movement. The Women's Movement. The Vietnam War. But by the time we graduated from college in 1979, the pendulum was beginning its swing to the right.
History repeats itself. If you live long enough you learn this is true. We once again find ourselves in a time of great upheaval, still fighting some of the very same battles. The outcome of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still unresolved. Apparently a woman's right to birth control is also still unresolved. Income inequality is at an all time high. Some of us who graduated from college during a recession now find ourselves trying to rebuild our nest egg after another recession, wondering if we will ever retire.
The first presidential campaign I worked for was George McGovern's, before I could even vote. The last campaign I worked for was Barack Obama's. In between those two elections I watched my country change in ways I never imagined. An African American had been elected president but 24/7 news and talk radio changed our political discourse and not for the better. I no longer watch a lot of TV news but I do like drinking my morning coffee with Charlie Rose and I read the New York Times every day.
Between the Nixon and Obama presidencies, I have remained a liberal and I'm not afraid to say it out loud although I've taken some heat for it over the years, and still do. At 57, I admit I'm disillusioned with my ability to change the world, but occasionally, when something really upsets me, I can't help but try.
Some people have told me I should have things figured out by this time in my life. They must have been traveling a smoother road over the past six decades. Maybe they never took a detour. Maybe their American Dream really did come true.
Fifty seven year olds are noisy sleepers. A good night's rest is often elusive. Husbands and wives argue over who made more noise the night before. "You woke me up with your snoring." "No, you woke me up with that whistle sound you make." A secret benefit of living in an empty nest are the empty bedrooms.
At the age of 57, I find myself trying to find meaning at a time when some might think my best days are behind me. Each morning I wake with the intention of finding the sunshine in the day ahead. (Full disclosure: This isn't that hard to do in South Florida.)
I am working temporary accounting jobs because that is the job I fell into many years ago but I spend most of my time writing. When asked what I do for work, I find myself answering, I am a writer. Although it doesn't pay the bills, I am still chasing the dream. I've published two novels, I blog, and I write pieces here on the Huffington Post, so yes, at 57 I can call myself a writer.
At this point in my life I realize Paul Bowles was correct when he said "security is a false God." What I am searching for at fifty seven are not possessions or money in the bank, for all those things can be lost in an instant. Job losses, illness, foreclosures, the loss of a loved one, all these things can and will rock that false sense of security.
At 57 I live with the choices and mistakes I have made, along with the curveballs that were thrown my way. I accept the fact there will always be more questions than answers. As at any age, the only true choice I have is how I deal with life's ups and downs but at 57 I have come to accept this. Not everything can be controlled.
Time is my most precious commodity and I intend to make the most of it.