Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm Still 39 Damn It (if only for a few more hours)

Sophie Tucker would sing, "Yes, life begins at forty and I've just begun to live all over again."

Sophie was born in January 1884 and died in February 1966. Nine months later (Nov. 15, 1966 @ 4:15 AM CST) I was born. Coicidence? I wonder.

You see, I ADORE Sophie Tucker. She lived 82 years and performed until just months before her death. She raised money for something she believed in...the new state of Israel. She celebrated life, embraced her sexuality without apology, and laughed in the face of fear-based, body-loathing, sex-negative mores. Even overweight, middle aged, and sporting features that were not classically beautiful, she could still boldly affirm that she was "the last of the Red Hot Mammas." And, she managed to attract three husbands along the way, so a few other people must have found her pretty appealing as well.

Why all this musing about my patron saint, St. Sophie (not to be confused with "Sophia" - the ancient feminine figure of Wisdom, though, Sophie could play that role as well)? Because in about 5 hours, I will no longer be 30-Something.

I bounce between 196 and 208 pounds (currently holding at about 203), but my inner homo is still a slender 168. I still have my hair, but its salt & pepper hues continuously mock me. I recently had to get a stronger eye glass prescription. And, I visit the chiropractor the way my grandmother used to visit her hair dresser - WEEKLY. Fat, graying, stiff and achey...Happy Birthday to me.

The truth is my life is very full. I've visited 13 countries so far (I love to travel). I've managed to earn two master's degrees and I've lived in some amazing places: the Ouachita Mountains, Dallas, New York, Ft. Lauderdale. I have some wonderful friends and I love every minute of the work that I do. I have a wonderful life partner and I lived to see the medical advances that make HIV chronic rather than terminal.

And yet, for all that is wonderful in my life and for all the ways that I seem to be living my dreams, birthdays make me question if I've done enough, and if what I have accomplished happened soon enough. I don't have children, so I wonder what my piece of immortality will be. What is my legacy? What is the something that shows the world was better for my showing up?

Of course, I'm probably wicked shallow to even care about such things. My cats just eat and sleep and play and seem to have no concern about whether there is or should be any more to life. But my brain is a bit larger than theirs', so I ponder these things.

Usually my postings have a point. I want to challenge people to think, or provide some comfort to someone, or inspire people to take some action. But not tonight. Tonight my posting is just for me. As I move into another decade, realizing that under the best of circumstances my life is almost half over (and with less wonderful circumstances, well, it goes without saying...), I just need to peck out my middle aged blues.

Oh, that brings me back to Sophie. Sophie got gray. Sophie got fat. Sophie got old. But Sophie seemed to know that she was fierce! And in my better moments, I have that. In weaker moments, I can summon her strength and it becomes my own. Maybe I'm the reincarnation of her. Maybe her energy recycled into my consciousness so she could continue to live through me. Maybe she's long gone and its just my fantasy that my life is in anyway connected to hers. But whatever the case may be, she gives me hope and I am determined to affirm in her words, "Life begins at forty and I'm living all over again."

Here's to the next 40 years. I hope they are as full and as meaningful as I imagine Sophie's were. And, as a wiser and more mature 40 year old, my next post will return to the higher purpose of sharing a message. But in my final moments of 30dom, I wanted to indulge in some whining. Sophie forgive me.

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