4. You know you’re a woman over 50 when…

You have made a clear decision as to whether yoga is something you love, or something that winds you up. Ditto, jumpsuits.

You have experienced life’s high and lows to such a degree that the Himalayas look like the Norfolk Broads. And you’ve learned and grown, and shrunk and cried, and laughed and expanded, and seen the ridiculousness and the pain and the lessons in it all, and you are grateful for every second and every gift that has been given and taken away, because hey, it means life has been happening all along.

You have the general sense that someone has given you an emotional epidural and everything is just, whatevs. It’s as if you’re a teenager again, hormonally rearranging, but with more gravitas. 

Libido is something you remember as a general concept, like when you swim underwater and have a vague awareness of breathing.

Your soul starts to really scream at you, demanding your attention. It is a wolf that has been domesticated for years that suddenly smells meat or spots the moon and realises it’s full tonight, and every night, from this day forward.

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You actually don’t want to go to Glastonbury or Coachella or Burning Man as the toilet situation is un-TenaLady-able.

Your friendship circle is sleek and deep, streamlined to countable on one hand. When you meet, you talk about how you have entered ‘the drop zone’ where big things keep falling out of the sky. The drop zone is demarcated by the three ‘Ds; Divorce, Death, and Dermabrasion. When you meet, you update each other on who is currently experiencing one of the three Ds. After a vodka lime soda or two, you also discuss your righteous anger towards time and gravity.

At work, when you go into a meeting, things people say wash over you like a wave of detritus until someone mentions your name and reminds you that you said you would do something about something, sometime before, but for the life of you, you cannot remember what. The synaptic gnomes in your brain, who would once go straight to the right cabinet and extract the full file, seem to be asleep on the job, drunk, or may have quit entirely and retired to a beach house in Mexico. 

You still take notes with paper and a pen, in joined up handwriting, while everyone else is on their laptop and Evernote. 

You feel like the complex motorway inside your brain is worn out; that the smooth tarmac of focused connection has crumbled like a staff-room biscuit. All your former life-maps have faded, so you start to look for clues in nature. The changing of the seasons and the movement of the sun around the earth, and the stars and constellations are all you have to orientate you now. You develop a new interest in the details of a butterfly’s wing, or you download a birdsong app; anything that will give you a clue as to where and who the hell you are.

Your skin is a source of constant inspection and fascination; each day brings delightful arrivals of a new furrow or pock. Your bathroom cabinet teems with pots and potions, serums and promising segues between then and now, all of them useless against the papering and creping of your neck. Collagen has left you as brutally as that boy you loved, but guess what, you got along without him, before you met him, and you’ll get along without him now, just like elastin.

Everywhere is too damn hot.

In your handbag, you once carried keys to your rented flat, some Tampax, condoms, make up, 10p coins, an address book, a Sony walkman, an eclectic mix tape,  and spare pants. Now, it contains keys to your own home, a Moon Cup (you never know), two pairs of glasses, a small electric fan, vitamins, more expensive make up, bigger spare pants, phone, phone charger, breath mints.

You encourage young people to read books and they look at you like you’ve just suggested a basket-weaving holiday in Bournemouth.

You have at least one Farrow and Ball coloured wall.

You have a collection of VHS tapes that you have no idea what to do with, but you know they contain pieces of you that you don’t want to lose but are also too scared to see. So, you keep the goddamn tapes, inaccessible yet there, (like your dreams). The tapes live in a box alongside CDs you can no longer play, mini discs, old phones you can’t get the photos off, Flip cameras, burnt out laptops with hard drives of archival gold and all those cables? No idea. In fact, you have the entire history of the tech age in a cardboard box in the very same attic you’d quite like to extend and add dormer windows to.

The narcissism of Instagram makes you profoundly sad for humanity and gives you a sense of ennui you can’t quite articulate to your kids.

You wish the smart phone had never been invented because you liked it when we got lost with a crappy paper map, sat down with people face-to-face to catch the nuance of their lives, and went to the library or read a book to find out facts. But really, what you miss is the space, the pause between what we wanted and we got. You long for that yaw where you had to stretch into desire and consciously decide to discover, buy, or understand, or learn. There is no pause button anymore, and it adds to the sense that life moves too fast and that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

You still can’t believe David Bowie is dead.

You have shed your skin so many times that you can finally see the bones of you. You know there is a new identity waiting for you to step into her. Child to woman, lover to mother, useful to redundant, visible to invisible, student to teacher, afraid to unafraid, and now, what? Well, I like to think that all your superpowers are building, you are stoking an inner fire with your flushes of heat. Everything before has been a dank attempt at kindling your soul. You may not see her clearly yet, this new you, but she shimmers in the distance, beckoning like a golden jumpsuit that fits perfectly, sparking off the sun, dazzling as Beyonce or an ad for tooth whitening, regal as a stag in the Scottish mist. You are now a firefly looking for other fireflies, searching for things to ignite, on a mission to set fire to what no longer serves you or the world. 

And so you shall, sister, and so you shall.