Yeah, I'm turning 50, so what?

March 15, 2000

Kate Coleman / Staff Writer

Uh oh.

A magazine cover with a really nice picture of Paul McCartney recently caught my eye.

Paul. Sigh. So nice. So cute. A casual pose, arm across a blue-jeaned knee, upraised brows over those wonderful big brown eyes.

cont. from lifestyle

Another sigh and then a gasp of horror.

The magazine was Modern Maturity, the publication of the AARP - the organization for people 50 years old and older.

Yikes. Paul is 57. And yikes. I'll be 50 this week.

How can this be possible? How can I be this old?

I calmed down and got real. I was, after all, in a chiropractor's waiting room. But despite my aching back, at the core of my consciousness, in my heart of hearts, I really don't feel any older than I did a month before my 14th birthday when I sat on the floor in front of the television crying tears of sheer adolescent hysteria while watching the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show."


I didn't get quite that worked up last month during "Mary & Rhoda," but I confess to a little eye moisture at seeing my old - yes, they are older than I - TV friends.

I even called my longtime pal, JoAnne, in California to see if she planned to watch. Together we had spent many a '70s Saturday night with the original "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

I remember when time was slow, when my next birthday took forever to come. A year was a long time when I was 10, five years was half my life.

Now five years is a drop in the proverbial bucket. Is that bucket the same one people are talking about when they say someone "kicked the bucket?"

Now the years, the decades whiz by - five of them. But who's counting?

I am, and it's OK.

I am blessed with a memory rich with details of younger days. There were the identical yellow skirted bathing suits that my cousin Peggy and I wore to Cramers' pool one New Jersey summer. The suits featured red and blue monkeys holding bunches of balloons.

I remember the way it felt to kiss the fuzzy top of my newborn daughter's head and the back of my toddler son's sweetly sweaty neck. A whiff of a Central Park horse on annual trips to New York City can bring back my years on the Keedysville farm.

But most of my time is not spent looking back. I am more than involved in the present, and though I know I'll never become a long-range planner, I am looking forward to the future.

If I'm lucky, I'm at mid-life. Yes, I want to live to be 100 - at least.

For those of you who think 50 is old - way over the hill - it might be strange to read that, in many ways, I feel like I'm just getting started.

My life has taken some unexpected turns. Some have been hard. I'm old enough to know there will be more rough spots in the road ahead. But I think I know myself a little better than I did at Beatles-crazy 14, and I trust that I can put some of that self-awareness into action.

"You can have it all, just not all at the same time," I've said. (The elderly can get away with quoting themselves.)

I never have made a big fuss about my birthdays, but this one has gotten my attention.

It feels like a new time.

JoAnne turned 50 in January. She's going to run a marathon in a couple of weeks.

I'm not.

I plan to treat myself to an $8 membership in AARP and take full advantage of the accompanying benefits.

I'll see if there's a discount on CDs. Even though my son says I'm too old to like his music, there are a couple of Dave Matthews albums I really want. I'll treat myself to the Grammy-Award-winning "Supernatural" by 52-year-old Carlos Santana and 53-year-old Cher's Grammy winner, "Believe."

I'll also try to get a deal on "The Beatles," also known as "The White Album." It includes a great tune called "Birthday."

I'll celebrate by taking a hike, my steps a little jaunty, singing along, paraphrasing a bit: "I say it's my birthday ... I'm gonna have a good time ... I'm glad it's my birthday ... Happy birthday to me."

Kate Coleman is a staff writer for Lifestyle. Her birthday is March 9.

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