Forty is sobering, fifty is a 'how the hell did that happen?' moment, but sixty—well, the big 6-0 takes you to a whole new, previously unimaginable stage of the ageing process. When anyone asks me how old I am (medical people, etc), I want to say 'which totally freaks me out' after I've said 'sixty'.
I read somewhere that forty is the old age of youth, and fifty is the youth of old age. Sixty, though, is just old.
The other day it occurred to me that I may actually be classed as a 'senior citizen' (the official age of such a definition varies). This seems completely ludicrous. I feel like I've moved from my racketing around, chaotic younger years to being an old lady, without having the mature adult decades in between. I've somehow managed to skip that part, perhaps because I spent my forties in the pub/immersed in ill-advised relationships, and my fifties sitting at my laptop writing books.
|My 60th birthday cake - a Walking Dead cake, made by Ema of Dotty About Cakes|
Of course, my twilight years crept up on me during my late fifties. The usual stuff—more achy bits, more pills to take, going off alcohol and worrying about my B12 and D3 intake, saying, "Oh God" instead of "Oh good" when invited out on social occasions, and the increased padding round the middle that isn't going anywhere soon, because I don't care enough to do anything about it.
When I was younger I thought being this old would be ghastly. For a start, I thought the end of romantic adventures would mean that life was totally dullsville—I didn't realise that your desire to have them decreases at exactly the same rate as the likelihood of them happening. Having been happily married for the past decade-ish, I now wonder how I had the energy. Now, if anything happened to my husband, I am convinced I would remain single for the rest of my life, and contentedly so.
Two months before this milestone birthday I decided to do something I haven't done for ages: I would lose at least a stone for my birthday, and everyone would fall down in amazement about how slim and glamorous I looked. Of course the diet lasted less than one day, and they didn't. I met up with a few family members and old friends, looking just the same as I always do, and that was just fine; another positive, I suppose—kidding myself I was going to diet was just the last hangover from my younger days. The loose tops are here to stay.
|In Cromer, on the last evening of my fifties (wearing one of large selection of very loose tops!).|
Something I had forgotten about, which is another of the upsides of this age, is that you get free and cheap stuff! I didn't even realise I got prescriptions free until I went to pay for one, a few weeks after my birthday. And I've got a senior railcard, which rocks my world—I can travel first class for less than the price of an normal ticket, before!
|In Cromer, on the second morning of my sixties - now I am officially old, I dare post no-make-up photos without a care!|
On the whole, I rather like being old, aside from the fact that I worry I have a terminal illness with every twinge, and I wish I just had more time—will I have enough years to write all the books I want to write? To read and watch and learn about everything that interests me?
I regret all the time wasted on stupid stuff, in some ways, but don't in other ways because it's taught me a lot, and provided material for novels! I began to take my health seriously several years ago, when I stopped smoking; I scarcely drink now, and am fanatical about nutrition—and that stuff works. Since I've been an almost-vegan and started making sure I have all necessary vitamins and minerals every day, certain aspects of my health have improved greatly.
....but, having said that, I have far less physical energy and strength than I used to have. However many moisturisers I use, sixty is not the new forty. Sixty is sixty. I realised that when my sister (age 62) and I went to Hever Castle and Penshurst Place for the day with our friend Gemma, who is in her late thirties. After several hours on our feet, Julia and I had aching backs and felt quite desperate to sit down. Gemma was just fine, as we would have been at her age.
Another slight downside is that sometimes you feel as though the world is escaping from you. I remember my mother saying, in her seventies, "I don't like this world anymore. I'm glad I was born when I was", and I have begun to feel the same over the last few years, particularly as technology advances to scifi films level. I'm glad I was a child in the 1960s and a teenager in the 1970s, that I remember those times. I think it's probably the same for everyone, whenever they were born. Sometimes I look at Twitter bios of the young and think, "I wonder what all that stuff actually means?"
The fun part, though, is that when you are old you get to make broad generalisations about the youth of today.
On the other hand, it is not only old farts like me who make broad generalisations. A while back, on Twitter, I made a harmless joke on the trend for describing oneself as 'pansexual'. (I actually said I was 'napsexual', ie, too lazy and would rather go to sleep). Some young chap had a right go at me, saying I was mocking a genuine sexuality. He practically accused me of a hate crime, and said that 'my generation' were all pro-Trump, pro-Brexit homophobes. He really did say that, I'm not making it up.
I thought about this for a while, and sent him a polite DM to point out that it was actually my generation and the one before who fought all the battles, so that people of his age could claim any lifestyle/sexuality they want in their bios without fear of mockery or prejudice. He didn't want to see that, though. Especially not when I suggested that it was he who was bigoted, not me.
|Possibly my favourite birthday card this year, from my friend Sharon|
Generally, though, I get less het up about stuff than I did when I was younger, but that could be because I don't have children to worry about. I just want a quiet life. And I think you get more happy in your own skin, as it were, when you get older. Which is just as well, because it's the only one you've got.
I wonder if I will be writing a similar sort of post in ten years' time, when I'm seventy?
|Probably the best sort of 60 year old photo - hair safely over the face!|