the prime of our lives
living in the center of the party, living through the dark afternoon
last month, a very dear friend whom I’ve known for a very long time, with whom I lost touch and then miraculously got back in touch again, asked me to write something for her birthday, with few parameters except the occasion itself. I wrote her something specific to the occasion, and the event she threw for the occasion, and the history of our friendship. Then I spent a couple weeks debating whether to use it for this newsletter, since I’d written it specifically to be read out loud at a party, and I wasn’t sure whether it worked outside of that context.
I’m still not sure if it does, even after rewriting it to be more of a readable essay and less of an out-loud tribute to a person standing twenty feet away from me in a crowded room. But I’ve been thinking so much about aging lately, and how wrong and unhelpful just about every accepted truth about youth and aging turns out to be. So, partly this is a tribute to someone I love, and partly this is a beginning of an approach to some thorny topics, and that’s why we’re here, in the friends-only-Livejournal-post part of this newsletter (this essay is only for paying subscribers, is what I mean. Thank you for being here, by the way; it means the world to me and I’m genuinely and profoundly grateful.)
I sat at the outside tables along the street in a neighborhood where I’d lived fifteen years earlier, with the humidity pressing my skin toward the pavement. I was with a friend I’d known for an annoyingly long time and I said remember how we were always so miserable and he said yes except when we were ecstatically happy. He wanted me to feel yearning with him for the past, for being young in the way youth looks to people who aren’t young anymore. But we’re in the prime of our lives now, I wanted to say, only no one says that anymore, and I didn’t say it, because it felt too forbidden to feel glad about getting older.