I haven’t written a blog post in some time. I didn’t mean to abandon it. Many things were happening in my life, and time just kept rolling along whether I wanted it to or not. Said goodbye to a pet, a computer, a phone, and my wonderful father, who passed away this April. Got a full time job finally, after a year of short term jobs following our move north to help out my folks. Fiancé Brian got a full time job as well, so financially things are looking up. I have summers off from work, and I had expected to spend this one spending time with my father and doing lots of writing, but time keeps on turning, and unexpected things pounce on you when you least expect them.
Now, I have more time than I’m used to. Time off from work. My father needed a great deal of care but he’s in a place where time doesn’t much matter now. I have found myself resentful of this abundance of time. I liked taking care of my dad. It’s weird not to have to help him and check on him. I have filled my time with things that don’t require too much thinking. Lots of yard work, cooking, shopping, and picture taking. My old phone was a dumb phone. The new one has Instagram. I like Instagram.
During all of this, I turned fifty last month. So I dyed my hair pink.
Me: “I’m going to dye my hair pink.”
Brian: “You know you’re fifty, right?”
Me: “Yes. That’s why I can do whatever the hell I want.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been practicing doing whatever the hell I want for a long time. While I am aware of things like tact, politeness, obligation, and duty, I have made a habit of balancing those things with doing whatever the hell I wanted to. But I got a bit boring, I think, in my forties. Not too boring. I still sang karaoke, wrote books, and played dungeons and dragons. I changed my career twice. I changed my home and my hometown when I needed to. But personally, a bit boring in matters of dress and hair color, for example. Perhaps it was an unexpected and unwelcome reaction to working with at risk kids and being expected to set a rather boring example. It did not help that in some places I worked, some members of the staff ranged from judgmental to bigoted to misogynistic. Now I am back to working in the theatre where fellow workers tend to be very non-judgmental and diverse. I finally feel free to not only be myself, but also to look myself.
However, age certainly plays a part in my recent return to doing whatever the hell I want. When I was very young, I was terribly self-conscious. An introvert with anxiety issues, I worried about what people thought and how I looked. As I have aged, I have fought those concerns, mostly by acting like I didn’t care what others thought until I eventually didn’t care. I care about what those people who are close to me think, but I don’t give a fig what strangers and acquaintances think about me, and I haven’t for some time.
So, instead of seeing fifty as a loathsome milestone leading to nothing better than canes and rocking chairs, I find that I am looking forward to using my age to care even less what others think of me. It’s simply one more stepping stone in my ongoing journey to do and be whoever I damn well want.
I went to the farmer’s market today. A pair of older gentlemen were manning a table for the Lions club, and I stopped to buy some mints. I love those Lion mints. I spoke to the men minding the table, making friendly small talk. They were perfectly polite, but not as friendly as I expected. Then I remembered that I had re-dyed my hair today, in all its pink glory, and their manner made me giggle. I bet they are still talking about that woman with the pink hair. Soon, we’ll be having the memorial for my dad. My hair will still be pink. I don’t care what anyone else there thinks. My dad would have loved it. He’d been going blind for a long time, but, until the last few months, he could still see colors if they were bright enough. My hair is very bright.
Getting older may not be a barrel of monkeys all the time. You lose people. Life takes some unexpected turns. My psoriatic arthritis gets worse as the years go by. I’m getting an upper denture this month to replace my horrible broken teeth. Menopauseing is annoying. None of this slows me down. The psoriasis is doable, soon I’ll be able to smile again, and I’m really looking forward to being menopaused. I’m back in a career I trained for and that I love, and I’m working with some awesome people. Every decade I have lived has ended up being better than the one before it, and I don’t see any reason for that to change with my fifties.
If you are turning fifty soon, fear not. Nothing important changes, you just become more you. Be brave. Learn something new. Dye your hair pink. Do whatever the hell you want.