Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Round Numbers

I have a simple strategy for getting out of bed each morning. I open my eyes and gaze at the red numbers of my digital clock. Then, depending on the digits, I either pull the covers up tighter and close my eyes or I reluctantly fold the covers down, fumble for my glasses and sit up.

I will get out of bed is the last digit is five or zero. Otherwise, no dice. I will not get up unless the number is a multiple of five--unless, of course, I've irresponsibly overslept and I must toss aside rituals and throw on some clothes. But otherwise, if it's 6:28 a.m., I wait until it's 6:30 a.m. Now, if I happen to open my eyes and it's 6:31 a.m., then I have to wait until it's 6:35 a.m.

What can I say? I'm a rule-follower. And I like round numbers.

Perhaps this is why I look forward to turning forty later this month. I was born in 1965 (a year divisible by five, I must point out) and it will be satisfying to me to go through 2005 as a forty-year old.

I don't care even a bit about being "older" and losing my youth. In fact, I feel a sense of relief--no one expects anything from me other than middle-age. A middle-aged woman can stroll through a shopping mall without notice, unlike a blond twenty-year old who was well-endowed by her Creator. I've been both people and frankly, I kind of like being the invisible forty-year old.

Except, of course, when the young moms (the thirysomethings) from church happen to mention some get-together they had which did not include me. Then I think, hey, what am I? Chopped liver? Stale bread? Nothing but old, saggy eyelids?

But that kind of self-doubt flees quickly when I refuse to embrace it. Forty is good. Forty is half-way to eighty and what's not great about being eighty? By the time you are eighty, I bet you can stay in bed as long as you want and only get up if the last digit happens to be a zero.

The alternative to getting older just isn't good. My dad was barely 47 years old when he died. He was on the doorstep of a dream, finally knocking on the door, hearing footsteps of someone coming to open that door and then--BOOM. Cancer came and swept him away.

Yesterday, we got a phone call from a niece who informed us that her sister was diagnosed with Stage 2 cervical cancer. I have so many nieces and nephews I barely know--my husband has two sisters and four brothers and they all married at least twice their allotment of spouses each--but this girl, I know. We invited her to visit us in 1990 while we waited to adopt. I remember her as a slight, delicate, sweet girl. She's thirty now.

Thirty. It's odd when other people get older, too. I never quite expect that. Anyway, I hope she gets out of the round numbers and makes it to thirty-one . . . because then she'll have no alternative but to make it to thirty-five. At least that's how it would work if I were in charge of all things numerical.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

"By the time you are eighty, I bet you can stay in bed as long as you want and only get up if the last digit happens to be a zero."

As one who will be hitting the divisble-by-five-60 in a few years, I say don't count on this as your body delvelop aches and pains. Someimtes, it's easier to get out of bed than to stay there.

Perhaps you didn't want to know that yet, and it may not happen to you.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Demented M said...

Bravo! Well said!

9:40 AM  
Blogger J. said...

I've always been grateful that I was born in 1970. It makes the math figuring so much easier.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Misreflection said...

Brilliant writing,but I must say I am close to 40 myself and after strugglying to accept the concept of getting old etc.. finally come to terms with it, its not the number that matters its how you feel at 40. Just started my blog , not a writer at all , not even a budding one, and a "friend" told me its sounds as if I am a 16 yr old,regardless I just plod on.. helps me overcome other issues currently dealing with.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Marykay said...

Derek and I like even numbers. That's how we got four kids. He tells everyone, "hey, everybody has a partner on the rides!"

1:37 PM  
Blogger Life's Laundry said...

Math and numbers is NOT my gift and I appreciate those of you who can roll that kind of stuff around in your head.
I hope your neice makes it to 31 as well.

I get up lately before 5:30 so that I can have the house (quiet house) all to myself and visit with the treadmill.

I hardly ever look at the clock in bed anymore.

6:26 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

How do you feel about sequential numbers on the clock? Seeing 12:34 always brightens my day.

Nice post, Mel.
In a lot of ways.


7:00 PM  

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