I know how to be 20 something, luring a man to the bar for drinks and giving him an opportunity to get to know me. I know how to be 38, secure in myself, with a house, clothes and a job to go with it.
I know how to throw a dinner party, a cocktail bash, and a 45th birthday party for the singlest stud in the neighborhood. If you were there, you'd still remember. I can rock a little black dress like nobody's business, and give speeches with confidence.
I know how to nurture small children into letting me bandage their boo-boos, and how to get a surly 14 year old to confess. I can get a gerbil out of the air conditioning system, a desirable man into bed, and ski without fear on Black Diamond slopes.
I can best the guy next to me at the gun range and walk away, knowing how bad he wants me (for all the wrong reasons). I can be humiliated at the country line dancing class and have a great time anyway. I can time a hint at just the right bedtime moment that assures me he'll be making breakfast in the morning and have tea on the bedside table when I wake up.
Why is it I can't figure out how to be a woman of a certain age?
How is it possible that I can no longer look my body in the mirror, and now actively avoid social invitations? How is it that the prowess of my youth, the lessons and skills I've acquired, and the strengths I have nurtured for so long, have deserted me?
How did I not learn to grow old with dignity? Where is the grace of my grandmothers, the wisdom of years, and the spirit that has kept me so alive for so long?
I want to be 25 again, and 30 and 36, and 42, and even 48 - just for a day or two. I'd like to recapture that confidence, and even the brashness, that I thought was me at my best. I always knew I'd be a great old lady - full of smart sass and wit mixed with wisdom, and just eccentric enough to make me lovable.
It's this in-between time I never counted on. Unsure, and finally unemployed. Lacking in confidence and nobility, occasionally infirm, short on funds, and surrounded by uncertainties. Lifeless too soon. Luckless - too bad. Where did I go? I have no idea, but if you see me... send me a map, would you?
Photo Image: Old Woman Cactus, DC Arboretum