Accompanied by the stretched-out silhouette of a sleek cyclist and hypnotic spinning wheels on the road surface to my right, I felt free and energised, heading home on my sunny evening ride. I could almost fancy myself as a fit young thing. But I was distracted by a persistent problem with the bike; a loud rhythmic clacking reminiscent of a 1970’s playground craze. To my dismay, as I climbed the last low hill into the village, I realised that the clacking was in fact my left knee. …aand I was back in the room, The Room Of Reality where my young head continues to struggle with the hard fact of my ageing body.
Recently a series of events conspired to remind me how vulnerable the human body is to wear and tear as it eases into the middle age and beyond. Out among the walking wounded I was a hospital visitor twice in as many weeks. Danny’s gall bladder was whipped out leaving him bruised and rightly sorry for himself with four puckering piggy-bank slots in his lower abdomen where they had poked about inside him. On the bright side, when the surgeon removed Danny’s annoying pet gallstone he also managed to perform a simultaneous grumpygitectomy, which is a blessing.
Before that, my Tall Bird sister flung herself heroically from the top of a step ladder in the name of Record Store Day bunting. After more than two weeks being re-built in hospital, she is now recovering at home with terrifying steel wires through her tibia, and an array of shiny hoops and trusses reminiscent of railway architecture supporting her leg. (See her instagram story @mazzymegastar #smashedknee). But when I visited her last week, it was her red NHS zimmer frame (called Roddy, for any 80’s pop fans reading this) that really smacked me in the face (not literally, although she is still rather cross about it all) and reminded me yet again never to take my body, and the amazing things that it can still do, for granted.
Then while poor Danny was recovering from his op, my back ‘went’. I think that’s how you say it in old folk speak. Where it went I’m not entirely sure, but for a few days I just wanted to remain on all fours, which isn’t altogether convenient, and makes browsing the new goodies in the ‘Aldi Aisle of Ramdomness’ quite tricky. It seems that no amount of Yoga practice, open water swimming and hill walking can protect you from what the Osteopath helpfully described as ‘Non Specific Mechanical Back Pain’. All we can do is get friendly with the pretty pink Ibuprofen tablets and sit it out…except sitting is hell.
Walking is better, and on Monday I walked with my fab friend Sophie, but after the first mile we were appalled by the realisation that our conversation, usually consisting of salacious gossip, work updates and detailed accounts of romantic encounters, (hers, not mine, sadly) had instead become a Top Trumps of ailments. We quickly upped the pace and dropped the topic. Inside my head I was crying, ‘I’m not ready for this, I refuse to get like that, HELP! I DON’ WANNA GET OLD!!’
Last night I went with some friends to our little local cinema to see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The following might help to describe the audience demographic: At the box office I asked the cashier to keep an eye out for my friend who was running late, describing her as having white hair. The cashier fixed me with an incredulous gaze, then looked around saying, ‘That could be everybody here!’ Anyway, the film was achingly romantic and, as the end credits rolled, a tangible murmur of sighs went up from the assembled codgers, me included. It was the sound of 150 ladies-of-a-certain-age longing for just one passionate embrace with a smouldering Michiel Huisman, while grudgingly accepting that in The Room Of Reality our days of passoinate embraces with anybody are numbered.
To put a cheery spin on things I think of the friends I’ve had, and people I’ve known who never had the privilege of getting old. Not sure if that’s any less depressing, but it brings things back into perspective and helps promote a sense of carpe diem.
On Saturday night I seized the chance to scrub up, make up, and don a party frock, which always makes me feel perky. We’d been invited to attended an RNLI charity ball, and as the yellow sun slid low across the vale of York we drove out to the venue, a converted barn on it’s own in a wide Wolds landscape. I glanced sideways at my date at the wheel, smart as a carrot in his dinner jacket, the golden light glinting off his greying whiskers, and I noted what an impressive man he has become in his middle age, still handsome but comfortably softened around the edges. It occurred to me that against the odds, and despite ourselves, we are growing old together after all, and it wan’t an altogether unpleasant feeling.
Then, like the child that I am, I took a selfie.
The evening was a hoot, even though, despite popping pink pills, it was the first time at a ball that I hadn’t danced my stockings off. And to my infinite joy it ended at the bar sharing laughs and naughtiness with some of my most favourite people; age immaterial, conversation suitably absurd, and one ripped dress.
And so I hobble steadily towards a half century, remembering now and again to pat my strong legs with gratitude for keeping me mostly upright. I’ll ignore the occasional throb of my bunion, and check more frequently for food in my teeth as I grow longer in the tooth, (only now do I appreciate the meaning of that phrase)
With age comes wisdom, and perhaps, now that I can hold the tree pose for more than a minute without wobbling (or swearing), I might soon take on an air of yogic calm and inner peace. Then I won’t mind so much when actual decrepitude really takes hold.
#ageing #growingold #wheniamold #funatfortyfive #ailments #health #lookingafteryourbody #carpediem #soldieringon #yoga #openwaterswimming #walking #friends #rnli #ball #barmbyfields #staystrong