I forgot I had a blog. I turn fifty next Saturday and I am sure there is absolutely no connection. Remember the Jimmy Buffet song A Pirate Looks At Forty? Well, the pirate just got pushed overboard by a Showgirl Looking at Fifty.
I am not the first to go into that good night. My friends Karen and Peggy turned fifty in September and March respectively making them ever so much older than I. For her birthday Karen planned a private yoga class for the four of us who always celebrate our birthdays together. Afterward she invited some “not as important friends” to join us at her house for dinner and a DVD photo montage of our lives together. It was really wonderful and a true reminder of how often I have changed my hair color. For Peggy’s birthday we hit Las Vegas where some of us retired dancers met up with some still working dancer friends of Peg and one opera diva to see Come Dance With Me at The Wynn. I haven’t hung out in a group of working dancers for a long time and I was happy to find that I could still speak the language. Dancers are fun. Throw in a major opera star (who is also fun ) to sing Happy Birthday and you have got yourself a stellar fiftieth birthday party.
So the bar has been set and what do I want to do for my fiftieth birthday? Nothing. Not that I don’t want a party and presents and cake and presents and Facebook salutations and presents and such, but nothing special. The thing is turning fifty isn’t the big scary thing I thought it would be. Probably because I have felt old since I stopped dancing fourteen years ago. Dancing is a business venture that is short and sweet and when it was over I was left feeling old, useless, and I had no identity of my own. A young adult life spent emulating diferent choreographers and playing different roles does not leave a great deal of time to grow into your own personality. Throw that in with a constant need to please, no job security and being judged only partially by your talent and the rest on how you look and it’s a wonder you can remember your own name. Then imagine being thirty six when most people are moving in to the peak of their careers and you are told you are now too old and too fat to work. AND by societal standards not only are you not fat but look like you could use a sandwich. It screws with your head not to mention your body image. You start your career in a skimpy costume barely breaking a sweat dancing to the most difficult choreoraphy ever inventented and then one day you find yourself on stage at the Dorothy Chander Pavillion prancing around in a hoop skirt waving a fan in Placido Doming’s face and then it’s over. That was life changing and difficult to deal with. Fifty? Piece of cake. Oddly enough something about turning fifty is actually healing. I can have dinner with a group of younger women and I don’t feel like I need to look like them or want to do what they are doing anymore. It is just ok to be who I am now and it only took me fourteen years and a carefully balanced combination of anti depressents and AA metings to feel like that. I have an acceptance now and the ability on most days to appreciate and be grateful for my life. The truth is fifty is different than it used to be. I am not saying it is the new forty because I do not remember having to get a colonoscopy at 40. Yet, fifty is not your mother’s fifty. Old age is going to look very different from how it looked when I was a kid. We have to reimagine how we are going to look and feel as we age. With inovations in medicine, health care. and most importanly injectible facial smoothers, we have the possibility of living longer and looking and feeling beter while we do it. Maybe we are still young and we don’t know it! One good thing about being an “olderish” dancer is I know that getting old doesn’t make you stiff and unable to move, not moving makes you stiff and old. So all my fellow friends of fifty join me! Let’s eat well, move, move, move and get the occaasional facial. There is nothing better than finally knowing who I am and having the health to enjoy it. Here’s to fifty and God willing fifty more.