In a couple of days I will be celebrating my birthday. It’s hard to believe almost one year ago I celebrated 50 turns around the sun; 50 years since I made my first glorious entrance; 50 years of loving me. Now as I approach my 51st revolution and celebrate the independence of my children, I honor not just my birth but the life I’ve earned.
I started 2020 with this thought: “Sorry, I’m not sorry!” I happily shared that with some close friends and family. It was during one of those conversations I realized I needed to edit my 2020 mantra which is now “I’m NOT Sorry that I’m NOT Sorry.”
Why would I say something like that? What would prompt such an ego-driven comment. Well I’ll tell you … years of people attempting (and in some cases succeeding) to make me feel bad about my life. Remembering that time is like searching through photos on an iPhone – years, months, moments, and locations. When I think of it in terms of years, it was the best of times. Even reminiscing about locations brings me joy – Central Islip,
Monroe, CT, New Haven, Boston, Stamford, Central Florida. I’m warmed by the thoughts of these places, each holding significance in my life. But when I start drilling down to specific moments, it’s less pleasant. Friends stabbing you in the back; being told I’m bougie because I live in a particular neighborhood; being asked why do I talk white because I use “proper” English, the same English we were all taught in school; being referred to by the N-word every day as I entered my college prep science class, being the only black person in my high school class all four years: reading racists comments in the yearbook I handed to people I thought were my friends.
Here’s what those experiences taught me: Make no assumptions about people; Never judge, especially without the facts; People will project their wants, desires and shortcomings on you; Know who you are and be confident in ALL that you are; and Never allow yourself to be put in “their” box or any box for that matter. This isn’t the entirety of my list but it is what stands out most.
MY A-HA MOMENT
In 2009, I was thirty-nine, separating from my children’s father and relocating back to the dreary skies of the northeast from the sunny days of Central Florida. My one nagging thought was who is going to want a mom of two young children on the verge of turning 40?
Fast forward ten years, I’m three months away from my 50th birthday party and the pronouncement of my age has people practically calling me a liar. “There’s no way you’re 50?” was a statement I heard in many forms. It wasn’t unusual to hear women in their 30s guess me to be younger than them. You would think sharing the age of my teenage children would make a difference, but the possibility of me being a teenage mom only added a few years.
Social media posts proclaiming black don’t crack was one of many trying to make sense of my age defying appearance. The years between 39 and 49 were filled with conversations with people in their 30’s convinced I was younger than they were. The popular age range was 32 -35 and when I would say higher, most didn’t go over 38.
I was never ashamed or embarrassed by my age but I didn’t talk about it. At least not until I had to promote my party. 50 Shades of Casey forced me to acknowledge my age over and over and over again. I had to own it and claim the accolades that went
with it. I told some my vegan diet, exercise and good genes was the formula for looking young. Good sex and masturbating were other explanations. (I promise you, I have no idea what it really is but these certainly help.)
I marvel at the youthful appearance of those older than me and remind myself, age ain’t nothing but a number. Corny, but true. For me, it represents liberation. I have been FULLY freed to be me and “F” you if you don’t like it. (Remember my tour name, “I’mNot Sorry that I’m Not Sorry.”)
As a woman, I fight to be heard and taken seriously. As a BLACK woman, I fight to be seen. And truthfully, I mean this regarding EVERYONE I encounter. My own people draw conclusions based on facts unknown. SMH.
If I can leave you with only one thought, just one tidbit, it would be this – Embrace who you are. Celebrate the magnificence of your creation. And love yourself because you’re here. Ok, maybe that was three thoughts. I love you bunches ~ Casey