As I sit in a dentist office waiting on my 21 year old daughter while she has a root canal, sweating my ass off because the air conditioning is out, and losing my patience because they are an hour behind, I have time to reflect on what it means to have just turned 40.
The only difference I have noticed as I get older is that my muscles hurt a little more the next day when I try to do something strenuous like walk to the refrigerator too briskly. Supposedly, I’m having to cover a few more gray hairs, but as often as I get my hair colored, I’ll never know. It has gotten easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. Mostly, I have noticed I have less and less tolerance for bullshit.
I still get carded when I buy beer, but now they do it because it is required where before a server would card me because I looked too young to drink. It also seems that I’ll have a couple of drinks because I’m thirsty and like the taste more so than the desire to get blitzed. It takes too many to get that way now. I’m too cheap and I’m not that thirsty.
I go to the doctor a lot more than I used to: swollen ankles, urinary tract infection, colonoscopy, pulled hamstring from water skiing, piles (it’s an archaic term – look it up), and fatigue.
So I guess this is all the result of my telomeres getting shorter and shorter. To combat this chromosomal damage, I’m supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables, stay out of the sun (and tanning bed), drink water, and limit my exposure to toxic substances.
What makes this aging process even more irritating is that I have to do it here in Tennessee which is quickly becoming the defacto world standard for hatred and intolerance against LGBT people. Soon, they are going to try and outlaw us all together – a “Closed Closet” law.
On the bright side, I can see things getting a little better. Just the other day, the Department of Justice filed a brief in the Golinski case taking the position that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and yesterday, the 9th District Court of Appeals ordered the federal government to immediately cease enforcement of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Here in Tennessee, a lawsuit has been filed to overturn the new law which prevents local communities and schools from protecting LGBT employees and students. Support for the Tennessee LGBT community is growing because of Representative Casada and Senator Campfield and for the first time ever, Knoxville PrideFest attracted the largest number of attendees of any free Pride festival in the state – a reported 7000 people.
So between now and next July 1st, when I turn 41, I’ve got to learn to engage more people in the fight for civil rights, take better care of my aging body, make more time for my family, and teach my partner and the love of my life, Jaime, how to clean the bathroom, wash dishes, and teach her what this concept called “outside” is. (Jaime is only aware of indoors and that brief walk to the car. Of course, she is going to kill me or seriously hurt me for this comment.)