To be 50, free from the old rules

02/28/2014 4:01 PM

04/29/2014 8:01 PM

I turned 50.

Fifty. That’s legitimate grown-woman territory. It’s supposed to be my “Maya Angelou, Iyanla VanZant, Op-RRRRAHHH WINN-freyyyy!!!!” stage.

But, if 50 is grown-woman territory I’m still test-driving through it. And now, apparently, there are all these rules I’m supposed to follow:

I’m not supposed to have hair below my shoulders or skirts above my knees. I’m not supposed to wear certain clothing cuts or colors. I’m not supposed to act certain ways or say certain things.

Certain activities and ideas aren’t supposed to be of interest or importance now. The hell?!

When I was little we had a saying in my community: “Ain’t.” (Yeah. That’s the whole saying.)

It was black southernese for “I ain’t going to do it.” That’s how I feel about these rules.


I choose to live my life.

When I was 38, I lost my younger sister. Or, she was taken from me. She went in for a simple hospital procedure. They did it wrong. They killed her.

For her it was over with and done. For my family it was world-stopping. And, for me, worldview-changing.

You won’t hear me seriously complaining about boob-drop or butt-drag because I think about her and how she expected to walk out of that hospital to see 39, 45 and 49. And I have no complaints about being 50.

Fifty is not the “New 30.” Fifty is the new freakin’ 50.

This ain’t no “Hot Mom/Cougar” kind of talk though. I’m not trying to be one of those women so scared of aging they crave the attention of men half their age or stuff themselves into clothes that don’t forgive 50-year-old flesh.

Those women who’ve had things pulled so high and tight that nipples are hair accessories. Those women with faces so loaded with fillers they can no longer be filled with emotion.

(Look if that’s you Boo-Boo, I ain’t mad at you. Do your thing! I’m just talking about how I’m doing mine.)

This is about accepting my age for what it is and taking the gifts it gives me. I’m 50.

Baby, that’s a lot of gifts! I worked my 50th birthday like a Wal-Mart greeter — morning to midnight plus overtime.

I’m so down for me this year. I’m not worrying about colors and clothes. Because when is a good time for me to wear my black leather over-the-knee boots or big statement earrings? In my casket?

Oh, I’ll definitely be wearing that stuff then, too. Bet on it. I will be coffin-cute.

And I’ve already let everybody know how I expect to be feted: I want “sanging,” screaming, passing out and choreography at my funeral. I want some, “Why, Jesus, why?!”

I want somebody to bring a James Brown mourning cloak to throw over my man while he’s doing his “Take me, too, Jesus!” I want some lyin’, testifyin’ and damn near dyin’— just like a proper southern black woman ought to have.

Until then, I won’t be studying any nonsense that cuts me off from a corner of life I want to dance in. I won’t be asking myself if it’s too late to go after this dream or that desire. Because losing my sister taught me that there’s really only one kind of “too late.”

Those rules? Ain’t.

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