Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sex and Death


Beardsley, "Climax"



In 2012, my birthday falls on the launch of the Chinese New Year, and I'm happy to report that I've maintained the positive attitude toward aging that I wrote about in 2009. While I regret the loss of certain parts of my youth, namely the snap back from physical injury (I'll never jump off a 17-foot-high cliff into a river again), I'm enjoying the flow into my demise. I credit my husband for making the transition easier. We didn't do a lot of things right in our marriage, but the sex has only gotten better.

Circa 2009, I wrote the following:

Sex and death seem to be team players in literature, in movies, and with dangerous people we all know.

Never quite made the connection until this past weekend. Had a major birthday on Friday the 23rd. Been railing against it for over a year, resenting any indication of being assigned to the crone heap of outdated thinking, and wondering if my options in life were inescapably narrowing.

My friends refused to let me forget my birthday. I made a breakthrough, past resistance, past resignation and arrived at rejoicing. Spent the weekend in Palm Springs with my husband, ate lightly, made love deeply --- part calisthenics, part practice made perfect. Add imagination, resourcefulness, humor, and finally that rare ingredient missing from my youth: recognition of death. Specifically, my own. For the first time, I let it play a part in my life, especially my love life.

Many older couples weekend in Palm Springs. I like looking at the affectionate ones, their veiny, blotched hands intertwined, wrinkled faces smiling at each other, still engaged with the personality of the other. I wonder if they see the wrinkles?

I never thought I’d live this long, certainly never thought I’d stay married this long. My adolescent self was sure death would prevail, and tragedy, dark and merciless, would snatch any joy right out of my grasp. Back then I focused not so much on real death, but on suffering since that’s where the drama is. It’s also part of my birthright; all the females in my family suffer.

Thought I’d cast that emo teen out of my life long ago, but she’s still there, lurking along the edges of what I’ve done in my life. She’s the sadness in Sandra, the underside of what I show the world. I’ve learned to treasure her pain, it flavors my writing, and it sometimes makes the world an exquisitely beautiful place to be. Recognition of death’s nearness made every moment of my birthday weekend special.

Sex and death, oh yeah, baby. Now, I wear my cronedom like I wear my halter-tops, with cleavage showing. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.