Today I am 50.
I realize that I’m supposed to be a bit freaked out by that. Perhaps I’m supposed to try to hide it. Or sleep through it. Or be coy and say “the 21st anniversary of my 29th birthday.” Usually I don’t mention my age at all.
You might be surprised to know that my most overwhelming feeling is: Relief.
I made it. I’ve been concerned about reaching my 50th birthday since I was 23. That’s when my dad had his heart attack at age 49. That’s when I officially became “high risk.” That means I had a higher that average possibility of also having a heart attack before age 50. I took that very seriously: kept an eye on my blood pressure and cholesterol. Tried to be conscious of what I ate (even I was conscious of eating something bad for me, I at least thought about it before shoving it in my mouth). Have made exercise more a part of my life in most years than not.
Aside from a few teeth, my tonsils and my adenoids, I arrived at this day reasonably intact. I realize that I should probably not mention that–it’s like jinxing a perfect game or at least a winning game (yeah, I just learned the hard way about that again on Saturday night when I watched Ohio State lose in the Final Four). But I’m doing pretty well, all things considered: my husband is wonderful, I have a fulfilling career, most of my family is still around, and I’ve gotten to see more of the world than I ever imagined.
So today, I am relieved and grateful to be 50.
This does not mean that I am out of the woods and am now prepared for disaster. Far from it. I plan to continue to continue to be around for another 51 years. Why that odd number? Well, according to Star Trek lore, first contact with another species will take place on my 101st birthday, and I plan on being around for it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, “That’s fiction.” But it seems like a good excuse to me. What’s your excuse?