I am forty-eight, and I have achieved a kind of balance where I can now tell my friends I love them.
It’s liberating and invigorating and a lot of other action verbs (gerunds, I think) and I’ve waited my entire life for the satisfaction of having friends– some who have known me for thirty years or more– to whom I can say, without hesitation, “I love you.”
Yes, we may accompany this with an awkward male hug or no hug at all, but it’s an unexpected benefit of aging that, up until recently, had been wholly unknown to me.
I anticipated the aches and pains, the, ahem, thickening around the midsection. The, ahem, lines of character, hard earned and now worn as an emblem of experience and a life well lived.
What I did not anticipate is what I’ve seen older men doing around me all my life. They are both sweeter– yes, sweeter– and meaner all at once, a contradiction I’d previously only found in childish candy and chocolate milk on the verge of spoilage. It’s a heady sensation to me, since I (among everyone who knows me) am most surprised to see myself here, on the cusp of fifty– happy, rich with friends, and able to put away the concerns of a younger man.
I think it’s the best of both worlds. In my mind, I am twenty-something, an impervious wall of the me I knew from mirrors long ago, but a construct; a thing that existed only at a glance.
I like this aspect of me a great deal more. My son senses it. My bride, too.
I think getting older means that going slower means we are free. Free to say things like I love you without irony or care.
I’m also closer to the senior discount at Denny’s, and yes, I will use it.
I’m a man!