Monday, June 9, 2008


That was the vanity plate on a new Mercedes convertible I saw recently, in fact one that I later found out belongs to fellow Hilton Head Islander and published novelist, John Maxim. It made me smile, and it got me to thinking.

Before we go any farther, let me say that I’m going to tell you how old I am. Well, I’m not exactly going to tell you, but unless you’re incredibly math-challenged, you’re going to figure it out. And that’s okay by me. Somewhere along the line, it’s become acceptable for a woman to reveal her age, especially once she’s come to terms with it herself.

And I have. Come to terms with it. My hair has probably been silvery-gray since my thirties, but I never knew it, not for certain. At the first sign of those initial telltale strands, I became intimately acquainted with the bottle. Up until about eight years ago, I maintained that same rich brown I’d been born with. And then it became too much bother. My husband’s hair is white. I decided, what the hell.

Despite Atkins and South Beach and walking so much I go through a pair of Nikes a year, the extra pounds I acquired during menopause have stubbornly refused to be shed. Even a weekly sweat-fest I jokingly call two sets of singles tennis has failed abysmally to budge the scale. The laugh lines that looked so charming twenty years ago have deepened to become a permanent part of my face. In addition, last year I passed a milestone, one many of us on the outside cusp of the boomer generation will be experiencing shortly: I received my first Social Security check. Okay, I did take it early, but the math made sense for me. (However, as the e-mail and text-message jargon goes, YMMV—your mileage may vary.)

The point is—I’m officially of retirement age. A member of the Over-the-Hill Gang. And I’m ready to begin acting like it.

I wrote here awhile ago about my husband’s illness. He’s still not completely recovered, and he’s decided to give up his part-time job. That means he’s here, with me, 24-7. And it’s made me realize how many things I’m involved with and how much of my time they take up in an average day. My writing takes precedence—it has to because I’m on a deadline. But this past week I began to make a list of all the other activities—most of them as a volunteer—that send me off to meetings or keep me chained in front of the computer. And I didn’t like what I found.

My desk calendar looks like it did when I was working fulltime. Some of it’s book promotion, much of that involving travel, but a hefty number of my appointments have to do with other things. I’m on boards and a member of Friends of this and that. I help edit a magazine for my neighbor. I’m treasurer of a couple of big writers’ organizations. There are meetings to attend and e-mails to answer, phone calls to return and financial reports to prepare. Committee meetings, planning meetings, presentations. Conference calls and blogs and listservs.

And frequently there’s that soft, familiar voice drifting into my office from the doorway: Are you done yet?

It’s time to get my priorities straight. And I will. It’s just going to take a little time. As my dear husband is fond of reminding me, we live at the beach. And I’d much rather have calluses on my feet from the hot sand than on my fingertips from pounding the computer keys.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to have reached the milestone of being on Social Security. Although in my heart I’m still a thirty-something, my body knows the truth. And so, apparently, does my government. I’m going to start taking it a little easier, start spending more time with my husband and less trying to organize the world. I’ve paid my dues.


Kathy Wall grew up in a small town in northern Ohio. She and her husband Norman have lived on Hilton Head Island since 1994. Her 8th Bay Tanner mystery, The Mercy Oak, was released in May by St. Martin’s Press

1 comment:

dramamama said...

over the speed limit sounds so much racier than over the hill...