Humbly hanging on to Earth’s axis while storm clouds roll through makes for one hell of a 365-day journey.
I recently turned 51. I’m not 50 anymore. Now what?
Before putting the cart before that horse, let me say that my 50th year of going around the big ball of fire in the center of the celestial galaxy was definitely a trip. It looked absolutely nothing like I had imagined, visualized, dreamed or thought of at all.
Who would have thought that I’d find myself back in Texas? Not me. Living in the Austin area for a fourth time? Really? Alas, I am.
To go all spiritual for a minute, there might be some soul lessons that I’m supposed to learn that didn’t “take” over the past few years. I simply listened to that gut instinct or intuition I’ve come to trust more and more. So, here I am back home.
There’s been a lot of ground covered in Year 50 for sure.
Having a greater awareness of what makes me tick inside has allowed me to grow up more. You might say that being 50 means that I am a grown up. Yes, age wise that would be true. But I don’t feel like I started growing up emotionally until my mid-30s. Was I forced to deal with adult-like situations too early in life? Yes. Not blaming or anything of the sort on that stuff. It happened. Growing up in years does not always equate to emotions and feelings.
I’ve faced up to the fact that I still wear masks. The pesky masks that I and other people wear to hide our differences and insecurities are still prevalent. Just look around wherever you live. It does not matter if someone is rich or poor economically. It does not matter if someone is straight or gay. It does not matter if someone is clean and sober or a raging addict. Everyone, yes my brothers and sisters, wears masks to cover up crap at times.
What about money? Oh yeah. Eviction. Back taxes. Using payphones when the cell phone gets cut off. Creditors clanging loud bells and wanting their share. All were part of my lack of appreciation and awareness of currency. I am awake about all that stuff now and, thankfully, am taking big whacks in that area of my life. Progress!
Emotionally speaking, there have been a lot of downs and some ups. It’s probably called the rhythm of life by some wise sage (not me). A part of me really wanted my life in Arizona to work out. The reality, though, is that it felt like a struggle from the get-go. What felt like traction and upward mobility ended up looking like a jackknifed 18-wheeler caught in a Texas flood. In this present moment, that “struggle energy” is not in me. Life does not feel like a fight all the time. Maybe I’ve been having too many Diet Cokes lately, or it’s the smell of Hill Country air that is clearing out my head space.
While I have “checked out” with either fast food or sodas at times, I feel grateful that I remain clean, sober and abstinent. It’s something that, when looking back at my family tree, did not happen a lot. Mind you, I did go through “party time” a long time ago and have dealt with other obsessive compulsive issues over the past 15 years. Through that, though, I’ve met some men and women that by their example have shown me that having a healthy, loving, intimate, sexual relationship is actually possible. No, it really is possible. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s the “vibe” that I am giving off that keeps a distance between myself and a best friend and lover.
There were plenty of situations over the past year that I could have used as a reason go backward and hide out. I didn’t. I’m alive.
It’s not all been bad, OK. Enjoying the beauty of nature, whether it’s the foothills or Camelback Mountain in the Phoenix area or the hike-and-bike trail around Town Lake in Austin, has refreshed my heart. Finding and allowing fun experiences into my life remains a challenge. Well, it does. I recently wrote about happiness. I desire more happiness moments these days. Self-exploration is good and a valuable asset in my life, yet how about some fun and happiness?
The biggest takeaway from being 50 is that I allowed myself to trust people for help. I write this not from a needy, clingy point of view. There are people whom I’ve come to realize are not totally safe to be around; others are safer for me. A number of individuals stepped up over the past few months and offered me spaces to stay. It’s quite humbling to be at my age and, because of my own reckless ways, find myself bouncing around from one place to another. It’s a mirror of what I have done a lot in my life when it comes to apartments after leaving my childhood home in Beaumont, Texas, where I was raised, at 29 years old for my “dream job” with the now-defunct Houston Post newspaper.
Since I’m another step toward my AARP card now (hello, sarcasm), what is left of life? A whole lot! Ah, there are places to go, old friends to see and reconnect with, and remain open to that elusive lover. Part of my heart’s calling remains as an advocate for children, adults and parents dealing with emotional issues within the cleft, craniofacial and facial difference community around the world. That will stay with me until I breathe my last, and I don’t expect that to happen for a long time to come.
Year 50 is in the books. It was a finger-snapping, heart-wrenching, tear-shedding, fear-filled and love welcoming tour de force. Age is just a number, or so I have read. It is. I dumped 18-plus years of journals and two-thirds of the family photos I have been carrying around with me for years. Those journals were special because they reflected where I was emotionally at different moments, yet I desire to make new memories and moments. I just started a new journal. I just started a new life here in Austin.
It is not perfect, but I’ll take it.
Photo: Getty Images