Aging is a humbling experience, you feel the same and yet your body and mind is telling you that’s not the case. When I turned 50, I gained 10 pounds that have never gone away no matter what I do. I’ve rowed, ran, swam, rode my bike, eaten only salads yet it is stuck there. In a way, I finally have a woman’s body instead of the bikini bod I got to have for almost 50 years (you’d think I’d be grateful?). Instead of throwing on a pair of shorts and seeing muscle I used to see, I see elephant knees.
As much as I love the beach and really am grateful I got to grow up in a beach town, moving to NorCal saved my skin. Never one to just sit around and lay out for a tan anyway, my life was the beach. In my teens, I would roller skate that mile to the beach every day to play volleyball and swim. If I laid out, it was to read a book or to dry off. As a kid, I’d ride my bike with $1 for lunch tucked in the corner of my towel for Zeppy’s pizza.
All this was coming to me on my swim yesterday, where a woman was in the lane next to me with her teenage daughter…smoking me in laps. It’s not like I’m fast at anything, there are times I just want to cry at what I used to be. I’m fast and in shape for my age?? I remember going in for my physical at 50 where the nurse said, “You’re 50 years young?” like I was 100.
It’s one thing to have the physical decline, barely able to pull myself out of the pool. Twice my legs have gone out from underneath me, once getting on the boat and another time where my cousin & I were jumping off a small stage while we were dancing. I paid for that for months afterward, it was worth it. That’s excluding the fact I’ve been injured almost all year with broken ribs (from surfing)/bad back knocking me out for 6 mos. Lucky I’m able to even attempt to get back in shape at all.
One of the hardest things is my memory recall. This weekend is the 6-man volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach I was considering going to. Besides the elephant knees & extra weight, I look similar to how I did growing up and people recognize me. Since I haven’t lived there for a long time, if I see someone I recognize I immediately say, “I’m Heller” to take that awkward moment of scrambling for a name out of the equation.
Obviously, people don’t have the same memory loss I do while I look at a face I haven’t seen for 20 years to try and recall a name. It’s worse when they’re drunk with a hat and sunglasses, I had 2 guys come up to me at the last Hometown Fair I went to and were pissed I couldn’t recall their names. One of them, for the life of me, I don’t remember at all even when he told me what his name was.
My memory used to be spot on, now I might as well be standing in front of someone peeing my pants is how humiliated I feel when put on the spot.
There was a guy at the golf course who had the same car I did. When it was time for a smog, mine wouldn’t pass without going to a rescue smog because of a computer glitch. The next time I saw him, I told him about it and he looked at me totally blank like he had no idea what I was talking about. A few months later, he asked me to look up his handicap and told me he had alzheimers. I watched his decline, finally coming out with a nurse so he could still play until he passed away. His handicap was a 10, even with alzheimers. A woman who guided his alzheimers group came in and wondered about bringing some of the group to play and I told her that he was really good, not your average golfer.
I think about him as I age, not that I’m anywhere near that right now. I do skip a beat from time to time, like if someone asks what I did last weekend I’d really have to think about it instead of automatically recalling. The physical is still automatic, similar to that guy playing golf. Still, it’s declining probably proportional to my age which makes going to my hometown events almost painful. That, and I’m genetically screwed in the memory department.