I turn 60 this year — I’m midway through the sixtieth year since I was born. Turning 60 is one of those milestones, and this one is giving me pause. I blew right through 30, 40, even 50, barely acknowledging their significance. None of those birthdays made me feel old or like my life was over. But now I realize that I’ll get to my 80’s and 90’s a whole lot sooner than when I was 30.
It might be time to decide what I want to do when I grow up. One thing I do know. If it’s what “everyone” does, it’s probably not for me.
On the other hand, maybe I’ve been doing what I want all along, and now might be the time to start getting it all down on paper, as it were.
Writing a memoir, I’ve learned, is more than just starting with “I was born late on a Thursday night.” Not that interesting. In fact, most of my childhood was not that interesting, although there was this one weird thing that happened.
I passed out while riding my bicycle. To this day, I don’t know why. I had got on my bike, started down the street with a friend, and the next thing I remember clearly, I was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom with one parent on either side holding me up while they washed the blood off my face. (It sounds worse than it was. Just a few scrapes and bruises and a slightly loosened tooth.)
Later I remembered that I had suddenly felt cold and had put on a sweater before taking out my bike. My friend, Joyce, told me that I’d said something about not feeling good and started to turn back for home almost as soon as I cleared my own driveway, and then I just crashed into the curb. She ran to get my parents when I didn’t get right up, and they came out and hustled me into the house.
Eventually, I vaguely remembered starting to turn and realizing I couldn’t avoid hitting the curb head on. But everything between that and “waking up” standing in the bathroom is a black void. My brain must have done one of these “Scary stuff, don’t look” numbers and just switched off something in my visual circuitry for a minute or two.
Brain stuff fascinates me. The brain is such a strange and wondrous landscape full of mysteries.
I look back and wonder what I might have been coming down with that caused me to faint, except that I never got sick. I was around 10 or 11 at the time and puberty was still two or three years away for me. And that stuff never made me faint. I was basically a healthy kid. Not a swooner.
Scientists keep learning more and more about the brain and about things that “don’t have a known cause” or “happen for no reason.” Although I can’t go back and investigate what actually happened that day, maybe someday I’ll at least have a few clues to speculate on.
That’s one story. Maybe not that remarkable. The fact that I still have that memory is reason enough for me to record it. I remember a lot of other things that happened to me over the past 59 years. Some are actually pretty good stories. And maybe that’s what I was meant to do “when I grow up” — have stories to tell.