Archive for March, 2008
It doesn’t make sense.
Poppies are bursting bright with orange,
lupines are stretching to the sky
But pieces of my heart are fluttering
down, down, down
to another season
and the shards are strewn around me like broken glass
with limited vision
I scramble to collect and reassemble the pieces
one by one they spike and bleed me
still, I stretch for them
the poppies flutter their delicate but resilient skirts
To the sun.
In The Middle
I’m middle aged. It’s got to be true; if I do the math, which means basically doubling the number of my age, and assuming I don’t get hit by a truck or something, I think I have to accept that label. It’s a label I remember hearing about as a teenager with the same kind of mystification and fear as middle aged people regard the teenage years: sudden reckless behavior, compulsive and impulsive actions, sexual promiscuity, experimentation, abandonment of the loved ones. As a teenager, I thought I should die before I reached such craziness, or just sleep it off until the cuter granny stage set in. But here it is, and I don’t need to be put into confinement because of it.
What’s happened is that I find I can relate to anyone, and I threaten no one. When initially I was so angry that I needed reading glasses (!), I’ve found that just by those alone, I’ve become a sort of member of some kind of lovable little club where people smile warmly at me and hand me their glasses, along with a comment about stretching arms out real far or how many pairs of glasses they have. Children love to go running around looking for my glasses, and can predict before I can as to when I’ll need them. I can use this as a pick-up line: “Hey, baby, got any reading glasses I can borrow?” But, being in the middle, I can also use that pick-up line the other direction: “Hey, baby, can you read this to me?”
I’m old enough that I can notice a gorgeous young lady with one of those perfect little figures that have blue jeans painted on and natural colored hair spilling all over her back and a face smooth so smooth not a line in sight…and I can smile at her, say hello, and not shiver with envy or turn to a mirror to wonder why I can’t look like her. I am now old enough I can even go up to someone like that and actually say, “Wow, you’re pretty.” And I am young enough that someone like that would want to spend a little time with me, chat, go for a walk, tell me her boyfriend problems. I can be a friend to youth and a friend to the elderly. I now have the patience and wisdom to be with the elderly. I appreciate all that lives. I know the differences between young and old. I am in the middle.
My peers In The Middle have no competition going on. We like to help each other out. We whisper about those damned teenagers, and some of us already have sons or daughter in laws, or are already enjoying being grandparents. We have little spare time. We try new things. We climb mountains, we dance, we become members of everything and follow agendas and drink wine and complain mildly about the beginnings of aches and pains and the onset of responsibilities associated with our aging parents. We mutually sigh over the lines in our faces, the grey hair, but then the lament only lasts for minutes, because then we charge ahead with all the busyness of our lives. We are indispensable to everyone. We are in the middle. Everyone needs us. We need each other to explore our deepest thoughts, our grapplings with spirituality, and our desires. In the Middle, we have a depth as profound as the middle of the bay where you cannot see the bottom at all and only the largest animals swim by. We are not on the safety of the shorelines; we are in the part that is immensely vast. It took a lot to get here, and we look beautiful. Young men and women swoon over us.
In the Middle, we get to be emotional in public. By now, enough has happened to us that it may not take much to set off a memory of something, and there those tears go rolling down cheeks, the sleeve takes a swipe at the snot, and we go on.
Middles. The middle is a sort of safe spot. It’s the cocoon between two extremes, the place that is a kind of holding tank, where the journey is in place; it’s the richest part: it’s the creamy part of any fabulous or even processed dessert (think Twinkies); it’s the middle of a hike where you find a rock and sit on it, looking up at the power of the peaks, and looking down at the vulnerability of the new wildflowers in the valleys. In the middle, we are both craggy and vulnerable, beautiful and strong, and always full of color.
We break things and we keep them or make them work somehow. We use duct tape a lot and we figure that’s good enough. We also love the best equipment possible. We have the best bikes, instruments, cars, pots and pans, and we are the first to buy the newest in technology, all inspite of the fact that those who are younger are better than us in each sport. We can laugh loud with snorts and not cover our mouths in shyness, and we freely hug people when we barely know them because we like making our families bigger and bigger. We laugh at ourselves when we do silly things, and in case someone didn’t actually see us do something like get our skirt stuck in our underwear in the bathroom then walk out in public, we then go around telling all our friends about it so they get the opportunity to laugh at us, too. We understand that the best stories of our lives are the mishaps, the survivals, the hard won accomplishments. We are practicing our stories for our elderly years, when we can hopefully luxuriate in the memories of all the sweetnesses, all the colors, all the loves, all the adventures, and all the joys.
The Middle is not a phase; it’s the longest part, a part to savor and explore, to observe, participate and relish, and some of that comes with needed tools, like reading glasses!