I amble through the supermarket. I am singing something or other; the song is not and never was the point. I am not singing loudly, but others might see my mouth moving and my feet tapping a beat. I run right into a coworker; this is that kind of town. "I was singing," I shrug, by way of explanation, and I grin. I do not elaborate, and she doesn't press me.
As I scoop the cats' poop early one morning, I find that I am talking to myself. I am not surprised. I talk to myself quite frequently. I am asking a question borrowed, with liberal editing, from Shakespeare: "Yet who would have thought the cat to have had so much poop in him?"
I sing in the shower. Of course I do! I've been doing that for years.
I slow my car and pull over to the shoulder, where I flash my hazards. The sun is setting in spectacular fashion, and I want to take a picture. So I do. Maybe drivers speeding past me wonder what it is that I am doing. But more likely than not they don't even notice me. I am past the age where I believe that everything, or anything, is about me.
I goof around at lunch with the children in my classroom. "Mrs. Piazza!" they giggle. "You act like a kid sometimes!"
I take that as a compliment.
I was a child who was old before her years. A conformist, I did what everyone expected of me, and I did what I grew to expect of myself.
But to sustain that level of obedience to authority, one's own or others', is wearying.
It took me forty-some years on this earth to shed the top layer of worry that cast a shadow longer than any shadow my physical self might have cast.
So when people ask, "How does it feel to be nearing fifty?," I am puzzled. Am I supposed to feel the sting of mortality? Because I don't. I feel younger than ever. I use no cream on my face, see no doctors who might tuck me in here and lift me up there, take no vitamins, submit to no exercise regimen. Still, somehow, everything is funny, everything is wonderful, everything brings me to tears of joy.
I imagine it just gets better and better from here. I can't wait to find out.