It’s always One Thing or Another… a lighthearted look at life, aging, and the absurdities of it all.
By Mark McNease
“Maybe we’ll do a cruise around the world for my seventieth, although that might feel too much like a farewell tour.”
It’s been almost a month since I turned the corner into another decade. I remember thinking once how old forty seemed, back when I was filled with twenty-something angst. As happens, forty came and went. Then fifty arrived with a cruise and a presidential election while we were somewhere in the Atlantic ocean. Now I’m officially in my sixties, celebrated once again with a cruise, this time for two weeks. They seem to get longer as I get older. Maybe we’ll do a cruise around the world for my seventieth, although that might feel too much like a farewell tour.
I’ve contemplated what this means to me for several weeks. Maybe I just wanted to absorb turning sixty, or maybe I was waiting to see if I suddenly felt or looked different. Was my graying hair any grayer? Did my joints burst into inflammation? Did people look at me sympathetically now, with a deference they hadn’t shown when I was only fifty-nine? Or was it much ado about nothing? I think it’s the latter. Hitting this kind of milestone is more internal than external. Mortality, that smirking dragon that first rears its head when we think thirty is downhill, then breathes smugly in a corner the rest of our lives, has a particular growl at sixty. The non-renewable resource we call time makes its depletion known more clearly, the hour glass comes into view and there’s not all that much sand left.
The celebrations went on a long time. My husband Frank and I went on that cruise to Canada, then a surprise trip to Amish country and a stay at a motel where every room is a caboose. Finally, I enjoyed a short, fun chat with some nurses and an anesthesiologist in a procedure room just before going under for an endoscopy/colonoscopy combo. It’s not a bad gift idea if you’re looking for something to give yourself and your loved ones for your sixtieth birthday. All went well, and hopefully I won’t be fasting and prepping again for a few more years.
We lost one beloved cat this year and are hoping our elderly twenty-year-old will be with us through Christmas. Meanwhile, we’ve welcomed two newbies into our home: Wilma and Peanut, both adult cats in need of loving humans. I work in a deli after 30-plus years getting wider and more unfulfilled in office chairs. I really never imagined looking forward to Social Security at sixty-two, or hoping I can somehow retire before Medicare, but that’s what happens when you live long enough. Considering the fate so many of my friends met during the AIDS years, I really can’t, and don’t, complain. It’s the big six-oh, after all, and I’m pretty happy I made it this far.
Mark McNease is the author of eight novels, two short story collections and miscellaneous fiction. He was the co-creator of the Emmy and Telly winning children’s program Into the Outdoors, currently hosts two podcasts: One Thing or Another: An Interview Podcast and The Twist Podcast with co-host Rick Rose.