Over the last few months, I’ve run into friends I haven’t seen for years.
These friends are my age or close to it, and I find myself awkwardly staring at them, thinking, “Are we really this old?”
Don’t get me wrong.
We look good … for our age.
See, it’s that last phrase that gets to me.
As we get older, we say things like that because age has suddenly become an issue.
I’m fine about getting older, it just surprises me sometimes.
I talked to someone recently about a job possibility, and he said the company wanted people who were in their mid-fifties who could give their last 10 years to the job before they retire.
Is it just me or do you translate that into: before you become irrelevant?
According to AARP’s Reimagine my Life tool, “a new me is within reach, and the life I’ve dreamed of having is actually very possible.”
At a college graduation party, we saw some friends we have known for 25 years.
One of them is getting ready to retire (NOTE: he’s about 10 years older than we are), and he said, “You’d think at our age, we’d have our lives figured out. But everybody I see that is our age is still trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives.
“At our age.”
Those words just don’t comfortably slide over me.
Each word sticks –At. Our. Age. Nothing good comes after those three words.
And guess what? We never really have life figured out.
I am starting to appreciate quotes like the one from Maxine that says, “For Halloween, I paint black widows on my spider veins.” Or like Weezer in Steel Magnolias when she said, “I am an old southern woman, and I am supposed to wear funny clothes, ugly hats, and dig in the dirt. I did not make the rules.”
I’m not as old as Weezer and I’m not wearing funny hats or digging in the dirt, but I am seeing life change a little bit.
I don’t want to go back in time. I love the life we have now, but I’m still surprised.
Surprised that we still don’t have life figured out. Surprised that most people don’t, even the people our age. Surprised that we are viewed as having about 10 years before official age of irrelevance.
But, there’s another beautiful surprise I haven’t mentioned.
It’s tucked in this little story about celebrating my dear friend Laura’s birthday last week.
I was blessed with a close circle of church friends while my kids were growing up. We were like an extended family and raised our kids together.
A few nights ago, four of us gathered for Laura’s birthday dinner.
We talked for hours about how things have changed in our lives — how our kids have grown, and our families have changed, how exhausted we feel from serving in the church sometimes.
We miss some of the high points of our in-the-trenches family life, but none of us want to rewind the clock.
We’re happy with the progress we’ve made.
We don’t have life figured out, but that’s okay.
What we do have figured out is that we are better women because of everything we’ve been through together and we are bound by those experiences and by our faith, which uplifts, elevates and strengthens us.
As I drove home from that night out with the girls, I thought about the depth and richness of our conversations.
Those kinds of conversations don’t just happen organically. They are the results of years of friendship.
I wouldn’t trade any of that for a few less wrinkles on my face or even a few more years off the resume that shows I only have 10 good working years left.
Because at my age, life is pretty good.