When I was five, I couldn’t wait to be six. I counted age by quarters. I’m five and a half. I’m five and three quarters. I’m almost six. I am six years old.
When I was ten, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. Only three more years until I’m a teen. When I am a teenager, everything will be different. I’ll be smarter and cooler.
When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be eighteen. When I am eighteen, I will be done with school. I will be old enough to vote. I’ll be an adult.
When I was eighteen, I couldn’t wait to be twenty-one. When I am twenty-one, I’ll be old enough to drink in the United States. I can go into bars and not be banned from all but all ages shows. There won’t be anywhere I can’t go.
That was the last time I couldn’t wait. From twenty-one on, there were no more hurdles to jump, no more things to look forward to simply based on my age.
I don’t regret the passage of time. I don’t wish I were younger. I don’t want to do it all over again. If you asked me if I’d like to be twenty-one again, I’d say no. It was hard enough the first time. I wouldn’t change a thing, because I wouldn’t appreciate what I have as much.
I have not had a charmed life. Things have not come easily to me. I wasn’t handed anything in this world. I’ve had to fight for everything I have, including my health and my very life. I’ve nearly lost the right to continue living more than once. I’ve been in intensive care fighting to survive. I have had hands around my neck wringing the life out of me. I’ve been punched and kicked when I was already down. I’ve never seen justice work; justice is just an imaginary concept like Santa Claus.
I have not had a charmed life, but I’ve had a life. I still have one. I am alive. I can take deep breaths and feel the sunshine on my cheeks. I can dip my feet into the ocean and squish the sand beneath my toes. I can laugh. I can laugh so hard that I can hardly breathe. I can cry. I can feel heartbroken. I can feel elated and I can love. I can feel. I can experience all the things that comprise the human condition and every day I continue to feel the sunshine on my cheeks is a victory.
I feel the seconds, minutes, hours and days weighing me down as I collect more of them each passing year. Time seems to move faster than it used to and I feel the weight of every single one of my days. It’s harder to get out of bed in the morning. My joints creak and pop. I cannot run anymore, but I can sure as hell walk. I will keep walking until I can’t walk anymore, until my final breath. I will savor each of my remaining days, because every damn day is a victory.
Written for the weekly writing challenge on age.