45 (and a Seven Year Plan)

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If you’re seeing this, I’m still alive. (If you’re seeing this eighty years in the future: cool, but no, I am not still alive.)

I’m still alive, by the graces of medical science, health insurance, luck, and impeccable timing. I’m alive because people care for and about me. (See above, Exhibit A)

Timing is everything. I first became aware of that suspicious spot on my back while doing a backbend over an exercise ball at the gym. Every time I’d do one, it would hurt in the same spot, the sore spot that might have been my undoing.

I’m lobbying hard for J to go for more regular checkups. What we sure don’t need in our family are any more unwelcome surprises.

I was up early today, around 5. Maybe it was the memory of being on steroids a year ago, or maybe it was childlike excitement. I mouthed my new age to myself in a whisper, as I have done on my birthday for my entire life, and was surprised that it is pretty hard to say. It requires you to force a lot of air through your mouth.

45 is a milestone for me, as any age past diagnosis is for a cancer patient. But today begins something else for me, too. A couple of years ago I noticed a few women in my orbit doing things I admired a great deal — casting aside great adversity to pursue projects long in the making, recommitting themselves to their art after a long absence, or forging a completely new path for themselves, in the middle of an established career.

All of these women were between age 50 and 52. So 52 is now my aspirational year: In the most obvious sense, because I’m hoping to still be around. In the less obvious sense, because I’m yearning to experience a similar triumph over odds and age and everything else, and accomplish certain things by the time I’m 52. The quest begins today. It’s not a checklist per se, it has certain benchmarks that are easily attainable, and others that may not be (but why the hell not just include them?).

The main goal is to accomplish without beating myself up for the things that don’t work out. I realize the universe doesn’t expect much from me beyond day to day survival. This plan is my way of saying, You know what? MAYBE JUST SURVIVAL ISN’T ENOUGH FOR ME.

Thanks for reading, as always.

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