At Fifty


Well another Christmas has come and gone, which means 2015, the year I turned 50, is also almost over. My feet, my knees, my shoulders all turned 50 as well. Some of my parts feel 50, and some of them look 50; although I am not sure what 50 should look like.

At 50 am I now expected to reprimand people? Does one experience a higher level of maturity at 50? Must I get rid of my comic books? (Yes, I still like comic books.) Do I need to suppress my love of cookie dough ice cream?  Do 50-year-olds no longer eat Fruit Loops? And, what exactly is one supposed to be doing at 50?

I do know one thing for certain, at 50, how you think about things changes somewhat. Let me explain. The mantra of a reformed compulsive clutterer is if something new comes in, something has got to go to make room for that new thing. I am by no means a hoarder, but my house is not large and storage space is at a premium, so this mantra works well in my situation.

The moving of something out of my house to make room for something new coming in is not an automatic process. It is something I have to physically do, something I must actually think about before acting on it. And, it is something that at times, I struggle with.

My brain on the other hand has arbitrarily put this process on automatic. I think my brain has reached critical mass, so it has decided to dump stuff without my consent. Old stuff, new stuff, important stuff, there really is no rhyme or reason as to what it has chosen to become forever lost. Questions of where I put my keys; what was the name of that actor in that movie; and that omnipresent question, “Where did I park my car?” keep popping up at the most inopportune times.

The maddening thing about this is (As if losing something isn’t maddening enough.) I will often remember something when I absolutely do not need it. Really, who needs to know the name of that Secretary-General of the United Nations with the same first and last name convention while you’re in the middle of a presentation or watching a movie? Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a guy with a repetition of his first name in his last name? You’d think I’d be able to recall that easily when I needed it.

Then of course, thinking about all this at times like during a movie, makes me miss part of the movie, which sometimes leads to a re-watch. It’s even worse if I recall something during a conversation about something totally unrelated, and blurt out, “That’s it!” Then I have to apologize and explain my ramblings to the poor soul that I had just rudely interrupted.

Usually this sort of thing is followed with the fact that I don’t remember why I needed to recall whatever I needed to remember in the first place. To this day, I don’t recall why I needed Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s name. The good part is should I need his name again, I’m pretty sure I will remember it.

But now things seem different. When I was in my 20s and forgot stuff, it didn’t matter much to me. Now when I forget stuff, I wonder if my forgetting is a symptom of something else. I wonder if I forget more than I used to, or at the same rate. As long as I can remember I have been forgetful. Although still irritating, at the very least, it tells me that my forgetfulness is not due to my getting older; it is something that has always been part of my makeup, so I guess that is somewhat of a relief.

Also a relief is at least now I will no longer dread turning 50, because it will have already been done. As for my forgetfulness? That will probably never change. Besides, my go-to answer of “It’s probably not important.” has worked out quite well for me. Except for my car. Losing my car in a parking lot is actually quite important to me.

As the years go by memories change. They become less precise. The details become a bit sketchier and more clouded, sometimes to the point of no return. Barbra Streisand had it right with her description of “Misty water-colored memories.” I believe not recalling something may be a change for the good. Maybe it’s our brains’ way of making room for new memories. Yeah, I think I will go with that.

With less than a week to go, the year I turned 50 is soon to be a thing of the past. Certainly in this next decade, I will change some more. Maybe, in this next decade I’ll act my age. Whatever that means.


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