Every year on my birthday I reverse the numbers of my age, and depending on the digits, either imagine what it will be like to be the future age or remember what I was like when I was the younger age.
For example, 24 was 42, and 42 was 24. It’s fun. I wondered at certain age whether the “older me” would still be wearing jeans. At other ages I recalled my first kiss, first date, and first dog. Luckily, at 13 I wouldn’t have imagined my father’s death when I turned 31. At 25, I imagined being married to my husband at 52, and at 52 I still was. At 37, as I held my baby girl I wondered if at 73 If I would be holding a grandchild.
Last year I couldn’t play the game. At 55, the number was the number.
It’s karma I told myself. It’s the year that I have to be me, the year that my baby would go off to college, the year that my husband and I would return to just the two of us again. The year I would finish my novel and let my writing go public. I worked on stillness and patience and learned to be a yoga teacher. I cleaned out my closets and threw away the clothes that at 54 I remembered wearing at 45 and thought well maybe next year I’ll fit into them again.
I looked in the mirror at 55 and saw that the scar from my thyroid surgery was fading, that I had recovered from the cancer that invaded my body at 53 and would never have been on my radar at 35, when all I could think of was getting pregnant.
So at 56 I am enjoying the prospect of social security at 65 while doing downward dog.
Nan Mutnick is an essayist and struggling novelist. She is a perpetual student at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute. As a certified yoga instructor she says “while in Standing forward bend the ideas tumble out of my heard on to the mat waiting for me to collect them.”
She lives in Westchester with her husband, daughter and dog Lucky.