over the hill, gladly
over the hill, gladly
Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer here. This is the summer of 40 for me. Yes, I am once again expounding on the number 4-0. I can't help it.
The people who manufacture party goods seem to think that 40 is significant in the fact that it marks your descent of the other side of the mythical hill. Over the Hill!, says every cardboard cut-out and banner and sign and balloon made to mark someone's 40th birthday.
Does that mean 39 was the top of the hill? Was I supposed to spend this past year standing at the peak of my lifelong climb, maybe planting a flag in the ground that says I MADE IT? I mean, if 40 is marked by napkins and matching paper plates all decorated with coffins and gag gifts like rubber canes, then shouldn't 39 have been marked with something equally brazen? Perhaps a big gold certificate saying that you made it to the top, or at least a warning that this was supposed to be the pinnacle year of your life and maybe you could go out and enjoy it rather than spend it anxious and depressed?
I am a bit nervous to see what's on the other side of this so-called hill. Do you step over the top and then tumble down haphazardly, landing in a craggy, corpse-strewn pit? Do you get to walk down the hill at leisure, picking flowers and getting tan along the way? Or do you step over that line and there's a sled and a steep slope made of ice waiting for you?
Now that I am approaching the downward spiral of my life (according to greeting card authors, at least), I bring to mind that saying that says something to the effect of being nice to the people you meet on the way up, for you may pass them on the way down.
So I'd like to take this Memorial Day to pay homage to the people that made that upward climb towards the big 4-0 such a struggle, because they are the ones who really helped shape how the second half of my trip is going to be.
To L., my friend who lived across the street for most of my childhood, for teaching me what backstabbing means, for being an opportunistic bitch and for setting the bar as far as crushing my self-esteem goes.
To my second grade teacher, who made sure we lined up in size order all the time, and always pointed out that I was last in line and oh so small. Also, for never putting an end to the teasing and name calling that took place in the classroom.
To S. and J., the neighborhood boys who threw bricks at my head, left filthy, disgusting notes in my door, physically attacked me on many an occasion, and made me afraid to leave my own house.
To J.H., for using and abusing me in a million different ways, for not owning up to the things you did, and for just being a huge asshole. Your brothers, too.
To G., for playing people against each other, forming sides and drawing lines. For starting battles and hiding while everyone else fought them out.
To C., for making me think I was worthless and useless and in your command. For totally dominating my life to the point where I had none.
To V., for a myriad of things for which I will always harbor bitterness and resentment and deep, festering hatred for that part of you that sucks.
To myself, for allowing these people to treat me that way, for never standing up for myself, for being a doormat, a willing victim and a pushover.
So as I stand here at the top of this hill, ready to take the plunge to the other side, I do so with the confidence and strength that only overcoming a life full of assholes can give you. Once I step over to the other side, I will no longer see the road I took up here. It will be obscured by the top of this hill and if I look back over my shoulder while I'm headed down, I will only see the past few years, the only years I want to see.
This is a good-bye to all of those people, to all of the baggage I lugged up here with me, to the person I was before I made it here.
40 never sounded so good.