Fifty is the new forty-nine! Plus three hundred and sixty-five days.
Molly Salterelli has been saying these words to herself over and over the past few months. She thought that by putting a humourous twist on the old “Fifty is the new forty!” saying, it would help her dread this milestone birthday a little less, but it hasn’t done a thing for her. She wishes she could believe that fifty is the new forty, only her back, knees, sagging skin, and hot flashes tell her otherwise. She woke up another decade older this morning and that’s all there was to it.
Her husband and kids have a celebration planned for her later on tonight. There will be cake, presents, well-wishes from friends and extended family members, and pictures taken. Pictures that, if you look closely, will say “This is it, Molly. This is all you’ve accomplished. All you will ever accomplish.”
Her list of accomplishments really isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. There’s the twenty-five year marriage under her belt (quite the feat some would say in this age of divorce), two children who didn’t end up in trouble with the law or in rehab, a tight circle of friends who care about her, and a respectable job that helps with the bills.
“But where is it?” Molly wants to know. It being that sense of purpose countless episodes of Oprah promised her that we’re all supposed to feel. Molly’s never done anything to change the world or the lives, really, of those around her. Sure, she has done things that have made her loved ones happy, but they’re things that someone else easily could have done. She likes to think that she was put on this earth to do something other than keep her household running smoothly or to process insurance claims for distraught drivers and home owners, but she has yet to receive a sign telling her what that is.
Maybe the restaurant will catch fire tonight and I will be the one who pulls everyone to safety, she thinks. Or maybe we’ll be driving home and spot a lost puppy who I’ll raise to be a service dog. Or maybe my husband will surprise me with tickets to what he thinks is an exotic locale, but is actually a third world country that we’ll still fall in love with anyway and stay on to build schools and medical clinics!
Or maybe Molly will end up ordering the Goat Cheese Salad like she always does when she goes to this particular restaurant and keep lying to herself that being a bored suburbanite is enough.