I wrote a post the other day about turning forty-three and being ok with who I am - especially as it relates to spending time alone. (Which I need, but have not always been comfortable claiming for myself).
I'm thinking more about age and self-acceptance as I prepare to write a poem about what 43 looks like for me. I mentioned that this is a poem I want my students to write this year. I've gathered a few mentor text about age - some poems, some not - for us to study. A reader asked if I'd share those with you all. Here's what I have so far:
Billy Collins On Turning Ten
A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty
This is Thirty Eight
Poem at Thirty-Nine
This is 45: The Eye of Life's Storm
Five for Fighting lyrics for 100 years
Age of 55 by Raburn
If you have any I should add, please let me know in the comments.
The more time I spend thinking about age, writing about what my current age means, the more times a small moment sneaks its way into my brain. I record it on Google Keep, storing it as a squirrel stores nuts, waiting for the poem to come together. For example, I saw my age in the locker room today at the Y. Apparently I'm not as "comfortable" as I thought. The eighty year old women were all around me, leaving water aerobics, taking a shower, talking about their grandchildren, great-grandchildren. They didn't even try to cover up their bodies, naked as the day they were born. I bring my towel to shower, put my underwear on in the stall. I've seen far too many students in this locker room. They need to be somewhat protected from that image of their teacher. Maybe forty more years will pass and I won't care, but for today, modesty prevails.
I also see my age in friendships. I comforted a student the other day. She had been let down by a friend. It had been a one sided friendship, she felt. They did a lot together, but it was always initiated by her. She wondered, was it not really a friendship? At the age of forty-three, I've had my share of friendships come and go. I love where I am now. I absolutely have had one sided friendships in the past, but I got to tell her that she was in control. If that person was someone she valued, it didn't mean that she needed to cut her out of her life, but recognize that was the way their relationship would be for now. She should feel comfortable speaking up if she wanted, or she could let it continue, but she got to make that decision.
As a kid, so many things bothered me. I agonized over little issues. I worried how many friends I had, what they thought of me, what circle of friendship I was in for them and they for me. (Acquaintance, close friend, best friend, etc.) At forty-three, that's gone. I have many friendships where I do the heavy lifting, and that's ok. I have some that have faded with the craziness of being a parent to two boys, that's ok. I think friends are like the tide, they ebb and flow. What remains is meant to be there, in your life. I have friends I don't see often, but when I do it is as if no time has passed. It's a funny thing, the balance in relationships, and a hard one to figure out. I was glad to stand on this side of that struggle and try to comfort my student, but I'm not sure my words helped. Sometimes you have to live through it.
I can't wait to see what else comes to my mind as I think of my age poem, or what it ends up becoming. And I certainly cannot wait to see what my seventh graders create. I have a feeling it will be some of my favorite writing of the year.
Slice of Life is a challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers