I came across a written passage yesterday, which was a thought I see written from time to time: that once you have two dead parents, the feeling of mortality weighs down on you in a new way, because you are “next in line.” I never feel that way. I feel a lot of things about having two dead parents, but a heavier sense of my own mortality isn’t one of them. It feels kind of like the illogic of thinking two coin tosses of “heads” in a row increases your chances of “tails” on the next throw. We can any of us die at any time. Just because both my parents somewhat recently landed “heads” doesn’t make my ”tails” any more imminent.
What I feel most about having two dead parents is freedom, and not just the freedom to spend Thanxgiving any way I please from now on. Two relationships that defined me whether I liked it or not, and I didn’t, no longer define me. Now I’m just me. And my siblings, the relationships that bound us together, child to parent and parent to another child, no longer exist. Now we’re just three adults. All of that drama, it’s over. And more than that, there are no more excuses, either. Blame your parents for 50 years if you like, but there’s got to come a time when the ridiculousness of that can no longer escape even you. I had my chance to be molded and shaped and deformed and stunted and held back and warped and all that. It’s been done, it’s over. Now I’m just me, just a pushing-50-year-old woman, “I yam what I yam”. Not that life is over and I won’t “grow” or develop any further; I hope to. But it is now in my hands entirely, to a new extent.
And speaking of pushing 50, there is an anonymity to this age about which I’ve also read strange things from time to time: that a woman of a certain middle age and beyond becomes in a sense “invisible.” Men on the street no longer see her as a sexual possibility, and so they don’t “see” her at all; likewise younger women, who no longer see her as sexual competition. This too feels very freeing to me. I’ve always WANTED anonymity. As a very young adult, I felt happiest sitting on a NYC subway car, surrounded by every variety of humanity you could imagine. Back in high school, back in Staten Island, I felt I stuck out all the time, a hideous thing full of acne. On the subway, nobody gave a shit about the girl with the acne; she was one of the less interesting and gruesome things around. I loved it. I never wanted to be noticed. I always wore things to tone down my bright red hair, not draw attention to it.
For others, relationships are ‘primary’; for me, they’re not even secondary. All I’ve ever wanted to do is my own shit. Now I can drift through life unnoticed and unimpeded more than ever before, and just do my own shit. Finally.