Strolling into My Next Decade
As a gay man in his late 40s, I have come to notice more and more the little (and not so little) signs that I’m aging, and they have all happened very recently. It’s like I have been young for decades and now suddenly every morning it’s something new. (I have been getting Botox once or twice a year now for a few years but I consider that just normal life maintenance lol.)
I am near-sighted and wear glasses. Sometime last year I was having trouble reading a book or looking at my phone while wearing my glasses. I was actually very confused for days, pondering—what’s going on? Why can’t I see my phone? I have been wearing glasses my whole life and had been able to read perfectly while wearing them—apparently not anymore! Now it’s glasses on for distance and glasses off when I need to read or send a text. This makes texting during Rupaul’s Drag Race quite the challenge! Relaying the story to a friend, he politely replied, “Yeah, that’s a real thing. It happens in your 40s.”
Everything we have heard about getting older is true: the hangovers are rougher; it takes much, much longer to recover. The pounds pack on very easily and the new-found weight is significantly harder to get off.
A few years ago, I thought these were urban legends or that maybe I was lucky and would always be “young at heart.” Just like karma—who might be late but always shows up—Father Time also begins to show up with his scythe and ticking clock. Well, Father Time found me. It’s like the dam broke and once the first crack of aging appeared the flood waters started rushing in.
Aging for me hasn’t felt gradual. It feels more like a before and after. One day I was young, carefree, hot, lean, muscular, sexy. (Let me have this, please lol.). Then one morning I woke up and just felt “older.” If everyone in the world were broken up into two categories—young and old—I feel like now, today, I am part of the old group. I mean if I finally got on the reality show Survivor and they broke up the teams by age, I would definitely be in the “older” group. I’d be longingly looking at the 35-year-old on the other team and hoping a tribe swap or merge would come up soon.
As we age, we need to spend more time taking care of ourselves, looking after our mental and physical health. Every time I see a friend posting on FaceBook that they are preparing for a colonoscopy, I think to myself, “I need to schedule that.” Doctors, dentists, trips to the dermatologist for a little touch up of Botox (or “Bo” for us in the know) come more and more frequently.
But the absolute “kick-me-in-the-crotch, spit-on-my-neck fantastic” sign of my own aging is walking. I’m only too aware of it. Loud, chatty, animated, gregarious, energetic, hyper—I have heard them all. I am Italian; I gesture when I talk. And I talk a lot. And I’m a New Yorker. Born and raised. I walk fast. VERY FAST. Especially on NYC sidewalks. I take pride in it. Lately I have come to notice that not only are people walking as fast as I am, many are walking even faster. Color me dumbfounded on 8th Avenue, walking to that quintessential Chelsea gay bar, Rebar, with people passing me left and right, leaving me to wonder, “when the f* did I lose my stride?!”
With all my whining about aging, I want to make something perfectly clear: getting older is a privilege. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to see 40, 45, and hopefully 50, 60, and beyond. Some of our friends and family did not get that privilege.
I am not a huge birthday person. I go out, see my friends, but it’s not a huge fanfare-type of event. However, we do acknowledge the day, and celebrate. We celebrate for those who didn’t get the chance. I celebrate for my beloved cousin Dawnie, who died at 32 after battling lupus her entire life. I celebrate for my two friends from college, Carrie and Deidre, both taken from us far too soon. I celebrate for an entire generation of gay men lost during the AIDS epidemic.
Speaking of the passage of time…it’s time for another touch-up of the Bo. I just hope everyone doesn’t stride past me as I walk to my dermatologist’s office! ▼
Robert Dominic splits his time between Brooklyn and Rehoboth Beach. He writes for publications including Instinct Magazine and his own blog, The Gays of Our Lives.