In the midst of the happiness and cheer in my life (because honestly it really is going pretty well, despite the minor challenges that are a constant for me … for every living, breathing, person out there) there is this small little part of my brain that I feel sits on what I am going to call the Death button. Maybe not sitting on it, but definitely watching it. It’s that nagging little part of your brain that starts to question the stress induced chest tightening as possibly something a little more. I’m certain it’s a jumbled recipe of recent personal circumstances, media fed pharmaceutical commercials reminding me that women my age may die suddenly, spurts of bad but yet-oh-so-good living, genetics, and lastly with what feels like a death parade of some of my favorite rock stars since the start of the new year. It just all adds up to being there. To questioning mortality. Let’s just add into the fact that the New Year as fresh as it may seem, is also a signifier that we are all about to be one year older. That’s my Anti-Pollyanna reminding me of darkness I refuse to embrace.
I don’t obsess over my age. I’m good with it. But —- Neither of my parents lived to see their sixties. While I feel far from cursed, I can’t help but wonder; What’s my unlucky number? Will it be the long slow ride to 90, where I fear my mind turning to mush or are these the last few good ones left? Truth be told, my parents deaths were not life’s cruel twisted joke; it was hard living on both their parts. Some might say karmic retribution in one respect, but I’ll leave that for my Daddy Issues blog when I finally get around to writing it. ;-). I know I am not either of my parents, but yet – I am. And therein lies that small part of my brain that sits and watches that internal Death button, waiting for the imaginary results on that bump, or lump, or cough.
I know I don’t always take good care of myself. I tend to live with vigor, and when I indulge I sometimes forget to shut off the “That’s enough” valve. My blood pressure has sent a scare into me more than once, where I start making false promises to myself and any entity that might have their hand on the paging Death button. But then I’m okay, and the promises turn into smoke and nervous yet reassured laughter. Add to that, my imagination which has always been a bit on the theatrical side.
It sounds crazy and a bit like hypochondria, but I never expected myself by my very early 50’s to have experienced death so many times. My family went thru a death crisis about 15 years ago, where like the aforementioned rock stars, family members were dropping like flies. While the number wasn’t huge, the percentage was, and it was like a small European village being wiped out of existence. They simply ceased to exist, leaving the survivors to stumble around wondering what the fuck just hit them. When it was all said and done, nearly every one of us had lost a parent. Soon after I was fortunate enough to experience a death free lull for about a decade, until it started to hit friends and acquaintances in the same fast, bullet spitting fashion. By then I was experienced, although I’d be lying to say that each one didn’t steal a little piece of me away.
The upside to this? There is always an upside to time and tragedy. For me, I’ve decided there is no time like the present, to live life a little fuller. Bump up that Bucket List while you still have the mental marbles to do so. You just never really know. I expanded a bit on my dreams and pushed the reins out of the hands of Awkwardness and Fear. (Fear holds those reins very tightly)
I started with Travel.
Travel for me was something I wanted to achieve, but never realized how I would grow to love it so much. I was lucky in my last relationship because he liked travel as much as I did, so that’s probably where I got my feet wet. But travel as a couple, versus travel as a single is different. I can’t exactly say how different, because I’ve only recently put my toes out there in the past year or so. Small places, girl trips, built up to slightly larger and now I have a couple of trips lined up throughout the year, and cannot wait to line the following year up.
In my 20’s, Greece was the big objective, followed by what I could only imagine as the breathtaking Tuscany region. By my 30’s I wanted to rest my ass in Ireland because it was so beautifully green, and the lilt of the Irish brogue has always sang so sweetly to my ears. But it wasn’t until the action of actually doing some travel, that I got it. The country that really did it for me was Costa Rica; even though the circumstances of that trip are yes, something I can laugh about now, but definitely not at the time. Since then, travel for me has become a bigger piece of the pie. No longer are the dreams a bit on the sparse side, to be done tomorrow.
I always figured someday, myself and my husband, Phil Intheblank, would go back and visit that proverbial little island in Greece; perhaps staying at that magical place we spent our honeymoon. Only, I haven’t yet done Greece. Or the honeymoon. Or even Phil for that matter. It took me getting to this point, Age and the Death button to realize “I don’t need no stinkin’ Phil to make the magic happen!”, and that ultimately time really isn’t your friend and isn’t good for anything but a little bit of wisdom you can’t take with you anyway. Get while the getting is good. So I started to travel a bit sans a relationship. Baby steps at first. I joked in a previous blog about Eat, Pray, Love, but I don’t know if I yet have it in me to travel half way across the world alone.
Note the word yet. It’ll happen.
For now I am still sticking with my side of the hemisphere. Tracking down the tropical places I’ve want to say I at least stepped foot in. There are so many of them, and I am barely getting started. Maybe I will be lucky enough to sip a libation with a local, chow down on a new dish, or run my toes thru the earth. For today, I’m using the safety and comfort of cruise ships and travel with friends, because it feels good to know I might be sort of traveling alone, but I’m not really alone. But soon I’ll put my big girl panties on, and just go – without the ship. Maybe even without the friends. Fly 12 hours, and rent that car, driving and relishing in the abandonment of lost fears.
I figure Greece will definitely be there waiting for me, maybe along with Italy and Ireland if I hit the lottery. Who knows maybe even my Phil to share it with. When I’m there I might get brave enough to flip off Death. But then again maybe not.
Either way, I’m going.