Today's my birthday. That means it is also my twin sister Kathy's birthday, so happy birthday, Kathy, and thanks for being four minutes older than I am. If and when we hit middle age, you'll get there first.
It's an ugly phrase, "middle age." I used it last week, when discussing restaurant options with a friend. We were talking about whether to go to a popular barbecue place in Cambridge, and I said I was no longer willing to stand in line for a dinner table. "I hate to sound like a cranky middle-aged person," I said, and my friend objected -- "Stop that! You're not middle-aged!" -- which was really more about his need to deny his own encroaching age than about any effort to pay me a compliment.
But what do we call this stretch of time? Years ago, Anna and I spent a day in Annapolis, and I had my fortune told by a nice man who'd set up a table in the back of a fancy clothing store (I think it was Avoca Handweavers; I still have the green wool cape I bought that day). He asked me several questions, including my birth date and the spelling of my name; he added up a list of numbers, and told me that I would live to be 86.
I was probably 30 at the time; 86 sounded like a good deal to me, as long as any reasonable person would want to live. But now here I am at 43, and where does that put me?
Maybe I'll live to be 96, like my great-grandmother Lamb, the legendary Frankfurter Annie (she fed hot dogs to horses, for reasons I've never heard explained). Maybe I'll live to be 100. In any case, it's not an infinite stretch, and I'm into the mid-range -- or better, more accurately, the prime.
I do work I enjoy, and am engaged and present in my life; I no longer feel the need to prove anything to anyone; I am wealthy in the love of my friends and relations; I have no major physical disabilities. It's equilibrium, or as close as we ever get.
It's a good time, and I hope it'll last a while.