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rambling towards the other side of the hill

I was told yesterday that the age you are officially over the hill is 41. I wish I knew that sooner, for I would have spent this past year standing at the very top of the hill screaming I am king of the world! before I began my descent. As it is, I've got one foot poised on the downward slope and in five days I will officially have crossed that other side. Which is fine with me as I believe the after-40 side is the one on which the grass is greener.

It's not going to be hard to forget all the things that came before my walk down to old age. The media is flush with retro stylings and bittersweet glimpses of the past. It seems the new trend is to talk about things that are old.

I've been watching VH1's I Love the 70's. Of course I remember all the fun fads and toys like Weebles (who wobble but don't fall down) and extra-wide bellbottoms and Bo Derek's cornrows and Joe Namath's silky smooth legs. It's not just the fads and stars themselves one remembers, however. You remember every single episode of your own sit-com like life that went along with them.

If I fell down this hill and tumbled through the 60's and 70's and 80's, I would see a blurry movie of sex, drugs and rock and roll, though not so much the sex and maybe too much of the drugs. Never enough rock and roll. There would be heartache and angst and so much laughter and love and the whole thing would have a soundtrack that would sell ten million copies as people like me clamored to relive their formative years through the music of the times. Nothing shakes a memory like a song.

My neighbor Diane died this week. She was just a few years older than me and I shared part of my past with her, the most memorable event being the day when we stood in the middle of the street, screaming curses at each other for something I fail to remember right now. Most of the kids on the block were out there watching as I flailed my arms in that Italian way while shouting that Diane was a bitch and a whore and then she called me that unspeakable word that girls sometimes call each other and I think the whole neighborhood gasped at once. Diane's mother came out of the house and dragged Diane in by her hair and that was the end of the show.

I saw Diane's mother yesterday at the wake and we talked a bit, but we talked about her grandson, who is 13 years old and now stands 6'2", and we talked about getting old and how the golden years aren't so golden when you're using a walker to get around and your knees won't bend anymore. We talked about everything but Diane because the only thing I could remember about her was the incident in the street and I don't think her mother wanted to relive that moment when everyone in town heard her daughter use that nasty word.

Diane's son was there. He must be about 16 now and he looked somber yet so very adult-like as he greeted mourners at the door and thanked them for coming and asked them to sign the guest book so he would know who came. It broke my heart to see this kid becoming a man for all the wrong reasons. Some day when he is standing at the top of this hill of ages and looking back at his youth, this is probably what he will remember most, the day he had to dress up and accept a million I'm sorrys for the death of his mother.

I saw some old neighbors in the funeral home, people who still, after all these years, give me the creeps and make me want to crawl into a corner and hide. They represent the worst times, the worst emotions of my growing up and growing bitter days and I still resent them with all the force of a speeding tornado. I don't forgive because they never asked and anytime I see one of them, I look them in the eyes to search for some glint of shame or spark of apology and there is nothing there, as if it all didn't matter to them. I'm sure when they looked down the younger side of their hills, they skipped right over the rocks and stones that represent their small torturings of me.

I suppose I should look past that as well and focus on the summer days spent barefoot and the winter days wading through snowdrifts as high as my waist and the sweet smell of the mimeograph copier in the principal's office or my mother teaching us how to play real Brooklyn style stickball. Sundays at grandma's and weeks spent upstate searching for snakes under rocks and driving down to Florida in a the brown station wagon while we sat in the back and made peace signs out the window to other drivers.

I turn towards the other side of the hill now and look down towards my kids getting older and sweeter and smarter, to weddings and births and new challenges that all my experiences have taught me to deal with. One year of a new marraige under my belt and so many to go, and they all are over that hill. It seems like a pretty good place to spend the rest of my life and as I start thinking about new directions and finally setting out to accomplish the goals I set for myself and looking around and seeing all the people who will accompany me on this walk down the second half of my life, I can't help but smile, welcome it and enjoy the feel of the grassy slope on my bare feet.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference rambling towards the other side of the hill:

» Maybe you'll get a replacement - there's plenty like me to be found from Ain't too proud to blog
"It’s hard to take seriously anyone reminscing on the ’70s who was born in 1981. Cough - Kelly Rowland - cough." —Test Pattern on VH1's new series "I Love the 70s" UPDATE: Michele briefly blogs about this series as well today.... [Read More]

» What's that, sonny? from Buzzstuff
Did you read Michele's post yesterday about being 'over the hill'? If you didn't, please do so. It is just wonderful. Goosebumps, Michelle. Goosebumps. Anyway, it got me a-thinking about age and blogging. Yesterday, John and I were talking about... [Read More]

» Just Thinking from Pointy Ears
After reading Buzz's take on Michele's post from yesterday, I started thinking myself. I am still on the lightweight side of “middle age” or so I tell myself. I'm only 37 until December, and the sad part is that I... [Read More]


Excellent piece. I too am 41, and it IS the backside of the slops as far as I can tell. Getting old sucks, but it does beat the only other alternative.

For now.

Great Post. Good attitude. The slope on the other side makes the joints ache a bit more, but you appreciate the view so much more. I'm making the final turn in lap 41. I'm ten days from 42.

Wow! I'm almost at the top of the hill - just a few short months before I turn 40. I better get ready to start screaming "I'm Queen of the Mountain!" So, tell me, is the grass greener?

Damn, someone forgot to inform me that I had already started on the downhill side. Oh well, it doesn't seem any different.

Ha! I'll make it to the bottom of the hill before you. Eat my dust, baby!

You're well over the hill....a number of years ago, Vogue set the age at 35.

Happy Birthday in advance. If I don't say it now, I'll probably forget it. Like Betti Davis once said, "Growing old isn't for sissies." I'll be 50 on September 3. It sucks rocks.

And I agree with your comments about the people who tortured you at school. I think most of us have one or two people that they'd still like to meet in a dark alley with no witnesses. Just once. Armed with various weapons and instruments of torture. And a guarantee that you won't get caught.

Imperial Keeper

Age is a number..oh yeah free kobe

Hill? What hill? I never saw any hill.

<opens map>

There's no hill anywhere around here.

Am I naive or what? I didn't start feeling old until I passed 50. When I look in the mirror, I long for that person from 10 years ago (age 46) to look back! You know what, other than the physical decline, I don't FEEL any older than I did 25 years ago. It's actually fun to get together with all the old broads my age and bitch about everything. You know, it's EXPECTED!!

Don't worry about getting old. It seems a lot of us are either there before you or just behind you.

Wait until someone asks your kids if your his grandmother. I almost killed the kid that asked my son.

Nice job, Michele.

I'm slightly ahead of you (43). I've had a fairly difficult string of negative events to deal with in the past few years (way too many funerals) and it seems like I have more and more things to worry about these days, but I also feel a certain freedom to just go do stuff that I might not have done at a younger age (I've probably seen more rock & roll shows in the past two years than I saw in the previous 41).

There aren't many good things about getting old, but in some ways it can provide a sense of liberation...

You're only as old as those you feel.

Michele - Lord girl, can you write. This piece brought a glisten to my eyes. I've got a jump on you, (in February I'll be 60 - damn that hurt), but still feel 30. The memories just get longer. Happy, happy in advance.
Best, Terry

You totally spoke to me and my 42ishness. I just started a wonderful new relationship, and sometimes I mourn that I didn't meet him sooner. But I was stupid on the front side of that hill, and so this is better. Sweeter somehow, because it took me the long strange trip of my life to get here. Here's a martini toast to the back side of the hill!!

Very well put!!! Thank You, Rick

I'm 42 with a 10-month old son. Your post really hit home.

I think I started feeling old when Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer died. They were touchstones of my youth, and artists I really admired. And.Now.They're.Dead.

Forty-one is good for you. It's enough years to have accumulated wisdom, but not enough to make you shudder when you walk past the graveyard.

Forty-two will be even better. Just you wait.

And, yet; it just gets better from here.

wow. cool post. found you at buzz's site. me = 49.

the year i was 45 i thought i was 46, so i missed being 45 and had to be 46 for two years. just cuz you just are not so connected to that number anymore. you've got bigger and better things on your mind. a 27 year old could never forget their age. younger people believe that their age defines them as interesting. and they think that if they refer to your age (if you're "older") it's an assumed slam. dumbasses.

that was a beautiful bit of writing. i saw myself in it way too many times!

in my book, age is only a number, mine currently being 42.