My body rebelled against me the other day. It … well, never mind the details. I had to lie down on the couch at the day job until my head cleared a bit, and I had to fight to stay awake driving home, and once home I peeled off my coat and collapsed into the bed, where I slept and slept and slept until it was time to go back to work.
This was very disconcerting, of course, because I had things to do and places to go — not to mention writings to write — not to mention, well, all sorts of things I could mention. It’s just so darn inconvenient to get sick.
Fortunately, it appears to have been a 24-hour flu — maybe 36 or 48 hours — because as I type this I am feeling much better, perhaps a little weak but that could just as much be because I haven’t felt much like eating for 24 or 36 or 48 hours and oh my god I’m turning into an old man who talks about his health issues.
Having been born in 1953, the year 2023 has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. When one turns 70, there’s no beating about any bushes anymore, you’re officially elderly, and isn’t that just bizarre? I remember singing songs I’d made up in the back of the 1954 Studebaker to entertain (or irritate?) my brothers. I remember watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and the first episode of some new science fiction show called Star Trek and hearing “Good Vibrations” on the radio and my concept of who The Beach Boys were exploding.
I am 10 years old. I am 19 and falling in love. I am 22 and starting my first full-time job. I am 44 and falling in love again. I am 48, calling a reporter who worked for me and hearing her say expectantly, “Grandpa?” and we giggled because no, sorry, I’m not Grandpa — but does my voice sound grandfatherly now? No, I insist, I am 10 years old. (I was 10 when I discovered Spider-Man and the world changed.)
I remember the first time I thought of a memory and realized it was 50 years ago, and now it’s more than 60. You don’t fully understand how long a half-century is until you’ve lived it and you start comparing what life was like 50 years ago with now.
They say life goes by in an instant, but nope, it slogs along day by day. Come on, 50 years ago was a very long time, and as much as I loved being in college and all those friends, that was a very long time ago. One year ago is a long time ago. And I’ve been privileged to have almost 70 of these years.
So when your body rebels against you after 69-plus years, you sit up and take notice and maybe worry a little bit. And when you’re feeling much more like yourself 24 or 36 or 48 hours later, you sigh in relief and get on with living.
It’s almost 2023. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, because I know I’ve said it before: I remember reading Nineteen Eighty-Four and being alarmed but grateful because 1984 was so far in the future. I remember watching 2001: A Space Odyssey and wondering whether that far-flung year would really look like that. It never occurred to me what it would be like when people born in 2001 became adults.
Where am I going with this? You know, that’s a question it helps to ask every day. Mostly I’m feeling better, thanks.