So, another birthday has come and gone without much fanfare, and that’s just fine by me. These days, a quiet evening at home spent with tacos and Godiva (imma wee bit bougie) cheesecake is my first choice, over what used to be a loud bar and waking up with random bruises, blurry eyes, and no memories whatsoever. I AM 52 years old, thankyaverymuch. Not at all mature, but aging, anyway. Almost in spite of myself.

Aging never factored into my thought process much until after I got sober. I guess while in my ‘wide open’* years, I assumed I’d never really age – not to any ripe age, anyway. I understand I’m still young at 52, don’t get me wrong, but this is as old as I’ve ever been and the differences between 52 and 22 are vast, I don’t need to remind you. And I packed A LOT into those thirty years, trust me. I guess as we age it’s natural to reflect and ruminate on what’s changed, or how we’ve grown (or haven’t, moreover). I’ve had a surplus of time to do that lately, it would seem. Does your hamster ever get stuck on its wheel in perpetuity, because that is exactly how my hamster rolls, I assume into never-ending painful eternity. I have thought about my life upside down and fucking sideways in the last few weeks. I’ve thought about my childhood, my upbringing, and travels. I’ve reminisced over relationships, failed and severed. I’ve mulled over regrets and dreams past, and have tried to reconcile them in myself.

I have looked in the mirror at every ridiculous and unflattering angle and have reluctantly explored every crow’s foot and every laugh line. I have managed to outrun grey hairs as of now, but it’s anyone’s guess on my real hair color anyway. My skin is looser and there is more of it ON MY DAMN FACE OF ALL PLACES, although I am in the best shape of my life. Oh, I have a fucking bunion.

We have some super friendly neighbors that have invited us to various game nights at their home in the last months. We’ve not been able to attend for various reasons and recently we got another invite and even though Johnny couldn’t attend, I said what the hell? Now, I’m the first person to run their mouth about getting out/meeting people/doing more, and then regretting it on a guttural level when the actual event rolls around. Lemme back up a sec and mention we know relatively nothing about these folks, but they own a dog and like stained glass windows, and that’s enough for me. I rapped on their front door on a freezing February night, with my other hand bearing mini-bundt cakes, and the next thing I knew I was in their kitchen and they were pouring me a sparkling grape juice (I shit you not) like they’d known me since I was a kid. They’re in their late 60’s, I imagine, and they have a warmth about them that I enjoyed right off the bat, and I was juuuuuust starting to get comfortable when I glanced behind them through their peekaboo kitchen window at what appeared to be eight chains hanging down from their ceilings, holding two separate adult size SWINGS.

OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEEEAASE

Now, just like you just did, I immediately seized and had visions of some head-to-toe-leather-clad sex gimp jumping out of the fucking sea trunk in the living room while I’m standing there with my plate of fancy wafer crackers and mixed nuts. I could hear OH GODDAMMIT, IT’S THAT KIND OF PARTY loudly inside my head, and oddly enough, instead of being horrified at my impending and (I assume) awkward “notsomuch an orgy gal – anymore, anyway” conversation, I was way more irritated at having to tell my husband he was correct.

As it turns out, the sex-swings were actual bamboo seat- hammock things that completed the unique Swiss-y Alpiney look of their warm stone-fireplaced cabin that had a well-traveled theme, with a lot of their treasures on display. There were delightful other guests and we played three rounds of a game called Codenames, and shared a lot of good laughs and it was just a really nice night, do you know what I mean? There was no drama and no one barfed. There wasn’t any pre-game vodka shots to get my primer coat on, so that I could either 1.) suffer through the night and/or 2.) get up my buzz to “entertain” and go “onstage” for the evening. It was simply a lovely night with interesting people whom I didn’t know and we all found some sort of connection, and isn’t that what’s it’s all about? Oh crap, is this serenity?

I left them with a few mini-bundt cakes, warm sincere hugs, and an inappropriate comment about bringing my own ball-gag, next time. I walked home, freezing my ass off and laughing about my favorite parts of the evening. The bitter wintry air bit my cheeks but I could feel it, you know?!? I COULD FEEL IT.

Just like I can feel the big fat tears now. I spent so long, so numb. I tried to rewrite that previous sentence fourteen different ways to read more coherently and more eloquently, but that’s really and truthfully the best way I can put it. I spent so long so numb.

Here’s to another year. Here’s to more connections this year, whatever they look like. More adventures. More laughter. Reach out. Meet your neighbors. Make new friends. Simply say hello. You just never know who you’ll cross paths with. Be open.

And if it had been a sex swing and/or swinging sex party? Ain’t my thang, but I ain’t judging, either. **

*in a meeting recently, a kinda rough gal was sharing her story and she struggled with describing her drinking and behavior, when she finally landed on “WIDE OPEN” and that fucking resonated with me in a way that still makes me laugh.

** not judging idk but it does seem like a good idea to have a safety word IMHO

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