September 5, 2009 8:20:00 PM
The ninth day, of the ninth month, of the ninth year of the century. This cosmic repetition makes an ordinary Wednesday seem somehow quite important. It is as if the calendar is telling us something of great significance. "Pay attention!" it says. "I am repeating this for a reason."
Of course, in reality, time is meaningless. Calendars, clocks, all the methods we have of marking passages are just man-made foolishness. They are a means of measuring our little lives, in an arrangement we can understand.
Sept. 9 is also my birthday. It is one of those decade-starting, oh-my-gawd-how- did-I-get-so-old (?!) birthdays. For me, it is a time to think about age, what it really means, and especially what it means to me.
I may be the only woman you know who is looking forward to this landmark in life. The last decade has been a nightmare for me. Chris and I were at ground zero for the worst disaster ever to hit the United States. We lost our home in New Orleans, our business, our sanity, and our sense of self. One year later, I had cancer.
We have worked very hard on the reinvention of our psyches and the retooling of supporting ourselves. Neither are going too well. Some days, I feel that our courage is propped up with a mass of duct tape and pharmaceuticals.
However, the beginning of a new decade brings hope. Perhaps, if the last was the worst of my life, then the next just has to be the best. After all, age is good for wine and cheese. Maybe it will improve me.
I have begun to accept new limitations. There will be no more high heels for me. Arthritis in my legs and hip have made sexy shoes part of my past. Now, I decorate my canes with beaded fringe and junk jewelry.
I realize that I will never be the youngest person to accomplish anything. I have already outlived some dear friends, and will probably outlive my teeth.
I am too weary to behave in a scandalous manner. I have, however, decided not be outraged by those who do. Maybe that''s what they mean by "wisdom."
I care less about pop culture and current trends and more about real culture and classic grace.
The shape of my body means nothing now. Once, weight and dress size were all important. These days, my husband puts me on the "ice cream diet" when I am sick. It is his own invention and works for almost every ill.
People often use the comparison-cliché "the greatest thing since sliced bread." I believe that should be updated to "elastic-waist clothing, the greatest fashion innovation since, well, since ever." I will never again wear a girdle.
I have made friends with my computer. I love spell check and on-line games. E-mails with cute animal photos make me smile; also flowers, nature and natural phenomena.
I am a product of the baby boomer generation. Our inner child stays very close to the surface. I like to think that I look better than most others my age. But then, Bruce Springsteen is exactly the same age as I. He looks a lot better.
I may not be as pretty as I once was, but I am smarter, and kinder and less judgmental. Surely those count as improvements.
On Sept. 9, 2009, I expect to be eating cake on my porch with some friends. I hope to raise a toast to the next decade. This one is anticipated with optimism and faith for the future. I will count my blessings. And please, Lord, help me put the last years away. (Far, far away!)
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.