the absurdity of midlife…

I love this stage of life…now anyway. At 52, I feel somewhat betwixt & between, not yet old, but clearly no longer young. I have to admit that loving midlife was a slow burn, a process requiring acceptance, laughter, more acceptance, a whole lot of grace and then a nap from the exhaustion of it all.

Midlife seems to have the best analog to middle school for me. Uncertainty. Flop sweats. Mood swings. Junk food cravings. Fear of what others think of me (this is waning substantially now though). Fortunately, at this tender age, I understand that trying something new isn’t so scary, it’s just really exciting.

Actually an epic fail of attempting something new might even have more value than success…at least when viewed through the lens of COMEDY and not EGO.

With that said…

My late, All-American discus throwing Dad/coach and I are heading west to compete in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m terrified, excited, moderately well-prepared and hoping to NOT make a fool of myself. However, if I do, I will have a funny story to share anyway. I’m sure Dad and I will travel well together. Although he might be surprised how many times I want tacos and how much I appreciate good tequila. Oh well, travel’s meant to be a perspective expanding adventure, right? I’ll eat lots of ice cream in his honor.

Throwing the discus in midlife has connected me to my younger and far more athletic self. My senior year of high school I forgot my discus on my way to the state track meet. I was so damn excited about seeing, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” with my friend, Jon that it slipped my mind. Using a borrowed discus, I threw my best ever distance and ended up with the silver medal. I wish I could locate my 1984 yearbook.

My goal in Albuquerque is to toss one that beats my qualifying throw of 69′ 9″ last June in Vermont. Full disclosure, there were only two of us in our age division.

I inherited this autographed discus from the many sports artifacts decorating my Dad’s office. Alfred Oerter Jr. was the first athlete to win a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympic Games. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Oerter

I throw next Tuesday morning (hopefully, I remember my discus). Wednesday evening is the “Walk of States”. We will do our very best to represent the 802.

Our team has an 84-year-old decathlete, Flo. I can’t wait to watch her compete. Talk about aging with some serious grit. https://www.mysuncoast.com/2019/03/12/year-old-vermont-woman-still-travels-world-pole-vaulting-competitor/

I encourage everyone to seek out competing in your state’s Senior Games. It’s really fun, the stories and the people are so inspiring. Your only qualification is that you have to be fifty-years old by the time of registration. Here’s the link: https://nsga.com/

Wish me luck and try throwing yourself into something new…there’s always added value in having another story squirreled away in your comic arsenal.

horizontal mystery ship—for Dad

HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP

when you leave at seventeen
rarely home
more than two weeks at a time 
months, years and decades
can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthood

only once
in the summer of ‘88
a recent college grad
wide-eyed and wanderlust-fueled
my tonsils required more
I stayed a whole month

once healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visas
off to the southern hemisphere
a young pioneer 
in search adventure
and different stars

now, when visiting 
after a lifetime lived elsewhere
grey hairs visible
no matter my efforts
I find myself
sliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts

driving Dad’s truck 
windows down, hair blowing 
mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty 
the prairie 
a determined cellular homesteader 
forever staking a claim in my blood and bones

I want to sneak out to the bar
play Space Invaders
sadly, no longer a standard
unlike 1982
drink beer, eat junk food
and avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-up

Looking back with midlife sensibilities 
I realize
those late nights in high school
tenth grade, I believe
laser focused, playing Space Invaders
provided a surprisingly valuable education 

initials entered, quarters stacked
protect the bunkers, defeat the aliens
monitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance 
my peripheral vision unknowingly trained 
to notice things beyond immediate scope
bonus points pinged
while friends waited impatiently

twenty more minutes, please

under a waning August moon
only one lunar phase ago
I was still my father’s daughter
a middle-aged, South Dakota teenager
pretending time actually plays tricks
wanting desperately to disregard reality 

one more visit on the calendar
one more phone call
cheeseburger or ice cream cone 
one more evening watching
Everybody Loves Raymond
M.A.S.H. 
or Mayberry RFD

twenty more minutes, please

quarters stacked no longer
Space Invaders
the nearly forgotten teenage relic 
of a heartbroken
fifty-something
fatherless daughter

once again, 
I am protecting my bunkers
monitoring a new horizontal mystery ship
paying very close attention
to what's just beyond my immediate scope

just twenty more minutes, please

I’ll give it my best shot, Dad.

Today I throw the discus at the Vermont Senior Games at 10:30 eastern time. I’m hoping to qualify for the Senior Olympics in Albuquerque, June of 2019.   I’ve been practicing.  I’ve watched many videos of remarkable Olympic Women throwing, studying their techniques.  I’ve worked with a coach. Thanks Matt.  I’m prepared to at least give it an honest effort.

Just over a week ago, my Dad sat in the pickup while I practiced throwing at the spot I learned to throw the discus as a seventh grader.  My Dad, my coach gave me some pointers and we laughed about a fifty-one-year-old woman throwing the discus again after 34 years.  Today he’s in the hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, getting world-class care and struggling.

I want to qualify for Dad today.

A standout thrower, Lillibridge placed third as a sophomore, finished second as a junior and won the North Central Conference discus title as a senior. Lillibridge, who placed second in the NCAA Division II national meet in the discus, earned All-American honors. A graduate of the USD School of Business in 1962, he has received the USD School of Business South Dakotan of the Year, the USD Alumni Award and the South Dakota Philanthropist of the Year honor. He has been a major supporter of Coyote Athletics for many years. He held State of South Dakota, Howard Wood Dakota Relays and USD records in the discus. A prep star at Burke, he was first-team all-state in basketball as a junior and senior, scoring a school record 1,631 points. Lillibridge was named to the fourth team of the Sport Magazine High School All-American squad. He also won a state title in the discus in high school.

SOURCE: University of South Dakota Hall of Fame website

USD Hall of Fame John Lillibridge link

It’s hot and humid, good for throwing and keeping middle-aged muscles loose.

I’ll let you all know how things turn out today. 

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

Burke, South Dakota—afternoon light

 

 

 

Burke, South Dakota—early morning light

I guess the prairie is on my mind today…

south-dakota-two-lane-and-graffiti-lillibridge-copy

Shawn Colvin’s “Steady On”

…Cause he seemed like a miracle
I ate it up like cereal
But it was something like shrapnel

Steady on!

It’s like ten miles of a two-lane
On a South Dakota wheat plain
In the middle of a hard rain
A slow boat or a fast train
I am gonna keep my head on straight
I’m gonna keep my head on straight

Steady on!