Well, it finally happened last weekend. I reached the half-century mark on a balmy, sunshiny day more glorious than anything I could have ordered. Sure, there were piles of snow still melting down the driveway like tears, a reminder of the soul-numbing winter grey we’ve experienced in the Midwest this year.
But, darn it, the living started to wake up on Saturday! Time for celebration that I’ve made it this far through depression, obsessions, autoimmune anomalies and the modern suburban lifestyle.
The big yellow ball in the sky, while delightful, also provided indisputable proof that the state of our humble abode had suffered through the colder months. A note to minimalists: while the idea of getting rid of items so that one doesn’t have to tend to them is appealing, the lack of material goods in a room exposes the cobwebs, grit and goo from a long winter’s night of neglect. There is nothing left to cover up one’s sins.
In other words, in the glaring light of 50, I can no longer sweep my transgressions under the rug, or behind a well-placed potted plant.
Still, housecleaning has become easier without the nicknacks of my latest infatuation distracting the room zen. On Saturday as I dressed my house for decency, I reflected on whether it was time for a spring cleaning of the psyche, a fresh start at fifty. The physical waltz of sweeping, spitting and polishing is triggering a rebirth — middle-aged in energy, but young at heart.
I often live in my head, so the housework becomes a practice in emotional cleansing. Milestone birthdays in the past have been orchestrated by outside forces and my own inability to accept my self. Looking back, I spent my 40th in the country home of my dreams with all its accoutrements, isolated, depressed and sick from an undiagnosed thyroid disease. Ah, the folly of thinking one can dictate to the stenographer of the soul.
Now (after a rather large mental yard sale) I can truly say that I’ve been looking forward to turning 50 with all that the age entails. And I want to thank all the folks over the years who helped me with this particular spring cleaning using your love, patience and kicks in the derriere when necessary.
This life lesson is what I showed up for.
Where do I go from here? The house is pretty tidy but will never be perfect. Nor should it be. I think I’ll dust off that midlife motorcycle. No telling where it will take me in the next half-century. And hopefully I’ll have less baggage to bring along with me.