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Not Like That

Let’s get this out of the way.

I’m 53.

Even so, every day, I don’t think, “Shit, I’m 53.”

Also, every day I don’t go out into the world and have people call me “ma’am” (and if they do, I do not find it offensive) or extend some micro-aggression about my age. My friends and anyone that has any connection with me don’t remind me in ways great and small, “YOU’RE 53!!!!!”

Sure, things are different now than they were twenty years ago. I have arthritis in my shoulder and knee. My sleep is disturbed. I’ve entered menopause, and I get hot flashes so bad, just the other day, my eyelids were sweating.

Yes, my eyelids.

And there you go.

That’s that.

Otherwise, I’m me. I’m no different than I was twenty years ago except I’ve lived more life. I’ve hopefully learned some good lessons. I’ve definitely made some mistakes and figured out how not to make them again. I’ve had some amazing experiences. I’m planning on having more. I’ve met some incredible people. I intend to meet more. I’ve settled deeper into my longstanding friendships as well as built new ones.

I’ve taken a journey that led me to the understanding that my soul has always been the same, from birth to now.

I have always been and will always be…me.

Do I have it all together? No. Am I perfectly comfortable in my skin? No. Do I have self-doubts? Yes. Do I have regrets? Sure. Have the words been uttered by myself, or others I know, “Getting old sucks.”? Yes (see aforementioned arthritis.)

Do I move on anyway? Of course, I have no choice (and that’s a good thing, because I can since I’m still breathing).

I also realized that if you don’t fuck it up, that thing everyone calls a Mid-Life Crisis (Run! It’s scary! No…relax, it so totally is not) is not a crisis at all.

Not even close.

It’s Mid-Life Liberty.

For some, it’s working for decades, and one day suddenly realizing all that work has paid off, and you’re financially secure. You might not be able to buy a yacht, but you don’t have to agonize over buying that sparkly gold and pink easter egg that will look perfect in the Easter tableau at the end of your kitchen bar.

It’s realizing that you’ve given so many fucks in life about so many things that weren’t worth your fucks, you have very few fucks left to give.

It’s understanding somewhere along the line, you developed an uncanny ability to cut through the bullshit. You’ve started to put yourself first. You no longer have a million excuses not to take that vacation, turn down a new road on your way home just to see what’s there, buy that thing that makes you happy. You just do it.

You understand the work will get done, but a lot of your life is behind you, so now it’s time to prioritize play.

What am I on about?

I binged “And Just Like That” (the “Sex and the City” reboot), and it made me annoyed.

So annoyed, I haven’t blogged in months, and I have a staunch rule not to put any negativity out there in the world unless it deserves it (and if you think about it, whatever “it” is rarely deserves to be unleashed).

And here I am, bitching about that damned show.

Allow me to explain (and there are hella spoilers below, so beware).

If I didn’t dislike it so much, I’d rewatch only just to count how many times they either flat-out stated their ages, or made some mention about those ages or ageing, or had someone else do the same to them.

Yes, I know Hollywood is obsessed with age and youth, but fucking hell.

ENOUGH ALREADY!

Newsflash, Sex and the City, a woman’s age, anyone’s age, is not all they think about, or everyone around them thinks about, when they pass thirty-five.

In a show that seemed to want…no…it seemed desperate to stay painstakingly, even rabidly and definitely politically-correctly relevant to the issues of the day, they ended up being totally ageist. At first eye-rollingly so. And then nauseatingly so.

(I should have known, they slapped Samantha with the ageist ugly stick when they made that last movie, which was cringingly bad.)

(Oh, and don’t think I didn’t hear that dig about being fat…so that was a hint of bullshit on top of the heap of it already being served.)

Back in the day, our Sex and the City girl crew could make mistakes. They were fallible, that was why they were so…if not likeable, then relatable.

But this bullshit was some bullshit.

Women of my age have a lot happening, some of it totally freaking awesome, some not so much.

We’ll start with the not so much.

In society, we begin to become invisible. Marriages become stale or fail or have already failed and we find ourselves alone. Men pass us by at work/in our careers, at the same time younger people get more attention. Children leave home, making us question ourselves and our place in our homes, lives, marriages. We look back at our lives and see the regrets. We wonder what it would have been like to have more kids, no kids, or any kids if you didn’t have them. If you’re single, dating is just as much of a minefield, if not more so, since the playing field is even less level, everyone has baggage, some of that baggage is extreme, and the choice is very limited.

You might still struggle with self-identity. With your style. With your body image. People expect you to act “age appropriate” or dress “age appropriate,” when you feel as young as you ever were, as sexual, as vital, so why do you suddenly need to have a certain hairstyle and not show cleavage?

Menopause is no joke. Hormones will fuck you right up.

You’re still dynamic and vibrant, and the world doesn’t treat you that way (“Grace and Frankie” does all of this soooooo much better…I know they’re a lot older than this crew, but they make their points while playing it for laughs and it works).

Or, alternately, you’ve lived long enough, you have it together. You get yourself. You’re finally comfortable in your skin. You know who you are. You’re not only good with it, but you’re settling in for the awesome stuff where you don’t have to worry about all that garbage. Age doesn’t hold you back, nor does life. You’re living it, more fully than ever before.

Or a combination of both.

In the show, they touched on the fact that Miranda’s hair had turned gray, and she went with it. I was feeling it. This is a thing for women (and men).

Then…nothing.

They also had a visit to the plastic surgeon that seemed solely to make note that (SURPRISE!), Sarah Jessica Parker has aged 18 years since the last episode of the series aired. (Yes, I know, in that scene they also made note of the apparently woefully unjust fact that men age better than women…but I can’t even get into that because…fuck you very much, SJP looked gorgeous, she looks her age, and still fabulous, so what is the point of either of these things? Yes, it’s unfair that society puts a premium on looks, but how about we let it go and just let her be fabulous without showing us how she looked twenty years ago, intimating she was more fabulous then).

They spoke a little about menopause and made a joke of it that, in my opinion, fell flat. It might have been funnier to see the ever-perfect Charlotte deal with a public hot flash, but apparently to the male showrunner, menopause is all about your period. Wait, I forgot, they’d tried the hot flash thing with Samantha in the movie, and it was so ridiculous, it was insulting. So maybe it’s good menopause was a side note in this (when, in reality, many women spend years dreading menopause, and when it happens, the symptoms, both physically and mentally, can be pretty damned severe and take a toll on you and your relationships – it’s like a dirty word, avoided or played for a joke when it’s unavoidable and it is no joke).

And as an aside, enough already times two with people giving Kristin Davis shit for whatever it is they think she did to her face. It’s her face. She can do what she wants with it. It’s tired, heaping all this attention on looks and youth and then heaping shame on women who do things to make themselves feel better about their looks and age. You do you, let her do her.

Now that I’ve made myself clear about that, back to the show…

They teased you with interesting side characters who I thought our girls would become mentors to (which is another awesome part of getting older, being with women who are younger and helping to guide their way, or meeting women who made different choices in life coming together as friends). However, they didn’t fully explore any of them, except Seema (and thank God for that, I loved Seema).

Straight up, I would have found a show about Nya, Seema, Che, Lisette and Bobby Lee (yes, give me more Bobby Lee!) with large influxes of Carrie as she is now (see below) far, far more interesting than watching whatever-it-was we were supposed to get out of the Miranda and Charlotte storylines. (In my mind, Che finds happiness a different way, dear Lord, they deserve it.)

Yes, yes, yes, I know. They were dealing with important social issues that need airtime that they’d awkwardly wedged into these character’s lives, seemingly forgetting we’ve spent time with them on and off for the last twenty-four years.

But how about women’s issues being portrayed in a TV show about women?

Is that too much to ask?

Oh, and I must mention, the loss of Samantha was a gaping hole. Actually, it was tragic to this ongoing story of long-lasting friendship. There were great Samantha-esque moments intermingled (particularly during the funeral, that was gorgeous and so very Samantha), but she was so good at grounding the crew and was the perfect ride or die (something Carrie desperately needed during this time, because Miranda and Charlotte made a shitshow of it).

Now, let’s enter Kit’s Imaginary world where she’s writing the SatC Reboot.

First, I would have shown Miranda dealing with Brady leaving home. Empty nest is a thing. It’s a big, huge, fucking thing. Not just for moms, but also for dads. So, while Carrie’s lost something huge, let’s see how Miranda deals with losing something huge…along with Steve losing something huge too.

Second, I would have had Charlotte wondering if her lifetime of trying so damned hard to be in control of everything and be the “good girl” was a waste, and if she regretted it, especially in the middle of raising two daughters who she was also trying to control and make perfect.

Or, option two, the quagmire of raising two daughters in a world of social media where the suicide rate of young women is rising alarmingly and slut shaming can get so bad, it’ll lead to a family actually having to move to a new town. Yes, Charlotte’s daughters were young, but this is happening to young girls…indeed, girls that young.

Mostly, though, I would have written this about women dealing with the real-life issues of women our age. Not lamenting repeatedly every day how they’re not thirty-something anymore and appearing to take a physical blow just because they’re called “ma’am”.

And straight up, I don’t care how old you are, people out on your stoop being loud until two in the morning is not okay. Call them on it. First, not only young people do that shit. Second, telling them to knock it off doesn’t make you the crotchety old-lady neighbor. It makes you a human with a voice who calls people out on being seriously fucking rude.

Alternate scenario for the show: maybe just making them all phenomenal and adjusted and having learned something about life in the last twenty years and challenging yourselves as writers to make that kind of storyline compelling.

Case in point:

I am not a Carrie fan. She’s self-involved and I find it irritating, but she was the only one I could stomach in this reboot. For all the reasons above. She was moving on with the times, not making a show of it, but spinning what she did into something more palatable to a younger generation by getting involved in a podcast. She was also dealing with a real-life issue. But she knew herself. Her style. She had zero fucks to give the shenanigans going on around her. She was fully aware she’s attractive, she might have earned a few lines along the way, but she’s still stunning. She’d lived a full life, and was intent to keep on doing it, no matter the blow she’d sustained.

She did her hair and put on the sequins and high-heels and went out to dinner and clubs.

She wrote her book.

She jetted off to Paris.

She lived.

She was aware of her age, and sometimes she felt the hits because of it, but for a reason that felt real: she simply was that age.

(And give the woman an Emmy if only for the series of scenes of her writing as we watch through her window or when she was at the bridge in Paris, both were startlingly good acting.)

One of the only delightful nuances of the show was Carrie having her entire life’s wardrobe in her apartment. All that life and living, grand and glorious, surrounding her while she continued her life and living, grand and glorious in the middle of a loss so enormous, I truly felt for her deep to my soul, all at the same time grappling with the fact some of those clothes are now considered vintage, but she bought them new.

That is what being 55 (Carrie’s age) is about. You’ve lived this existence, warts and all, and here you are…still doing it. Life continues to throw shit at you, like you lose your parents, your friends start dying, you face the music of decisions you’ve made that are irreversible (is Carrie okay not having Big’s child?), your hip starts hurting…but you keep going.

And you live in the world. It’s okay to say “throwing shade,” not because your kids say it, but because you’re allowed to speak in the vernacular that’s growing around you (what, are these women supposed to be hermetically sealed in 2004?). And you’re also allowed to enjoy giving your husband head without your friends blowjob-shaming you (wtf was that????).

I’m so glad they went for it in the bridge scene. They made it dramatic and over the top and all it should be for Carrie and Big. It was the only thing that seemed true to me about not only Carrie and the legacy of Sex and the City, but about me being represented by her.

Like Carrie, I’m not about to make any apologies for being me, the choices I made to get where I am, or the choices I’ll make in the future. I’m vibrant and vital and dynamic, with things to say and a life to live. I’m going to live big and wear the proverbial orange taffeta gown and hot-pink leather evening gloves, being my own beautiful drama.

For as long as I can.

All right…I’ll stop bitching.

Bottom line: if you haven’t hit this age yet, take it from me.

It’s not like that.

Or it doesn’t have to be.

I wake up every day, throw the covers aside, and I don’t think, “Christ, I have nothing to do and it’s all for naught anyway, seeing as I’m 53.”

Every day, I throw those covers aside, and I don’t know what to do first.

Just like it’s been for thirty years.

Because I have not changed.

I’m still me.

Just 53.

So don’t get caught in that trap.

It isn’t just like that.

If you let it be, it’s so much better.

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