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My Current Situation: I’m half-a-century plus one

It’s been a minute since I’ve crawled out of bed amidst an anxious toss ‘n turn and took to the keys.

If you can’t get your “stroke on” in bed, every good writer knows how to soothe her soul with key strokes.

So, it’s September. Practically mid-month. Specifically, the 22nd. Actually, it’s the pivotal month that tends to determine if your New Year’s Eve will be stellar or suck.


Insomnia and I have been bedfellows for years, but I would swear we broke up a year ago,  and sleep became my main squeeze. It’s been me and six pillows nestled in a burgundy, paisley brocade King-sized duvet for some beautiful evenings of snooze, and then – just like a cold-blooded lover, sleep slaps the door, walks out, and ushers in insomnia to pinch-hint. (Sucka!)

It’s all good though. I bought a bottle of Barbancourt Haitian Rum today, so guess what’s simmering in my steeping tea?

It won’t be long before I’m dreaming in Patois, but there’s a blog I wrote last month, but never posted. Now is the time.

My birthday blog.

There’s no such thing as a birthday blog, but mine is called a birthday blog because this is my site and I can call it whatever I want.  So, IT’S A BIRTHDAY BLOG.

birthday blog

Calendar ironic, I turned 51 years of age one month ago today.  On August 22, 1963 my mother birthed a “Penny” but I’ve lived a life worth more weight than ten billion gold coins.

The significance of  turning 50 is a milestone for anyone whose been blessed to live so many years. To my students, I am a phenomenon.  “You CAN’T be 51!” (I live to hear that!)

To my 24 year-old daughter, I’m just mom. What’s a 51?

To me, I am my own “real-time” miracle.

Guess what ya’ll? Last year, I swallowed a century whole and now I’ve turned 51 —  

Birthday Cake

This year is different.

I required none of the usual southern celebratory bores that enthuse so many others like crowded white parties lathered with ladies adorned in sheer silhouettes and natural hair styled in upsweeps or envelopes suffocating sappy sistah-girl Hallmark scribes. Let’s not forget the barrage of social media commentary in the tradition of guilt-clicking Like, and the quintessential, pre-ordered supermarket cake topped with gaudy, two-digit waxed symbols with withering wicks.

An apt exception to the latter is the most petite, beautiful cake given to me by Madame Kezia Hendrix Rolle who treated me to a lovely Spa Day inclusive of massage and lunch at the Marriott Sawgrass.  A nameless benefactor (ahem!) also helped make the entire weekend a breath-taking, four-day, stay.  Maximus-relaxation! I needed it. I deserved it. (Thank you very much!)
This year, at age fifty, I  crossed the five-decade finish line like an Olympiad leaning into a win with so much confidence and savvy, I had enough gumption to reach back and pull forward one more year. Ain’t God good?

The only real reason that’s significant is because last year, truth be told, I turned 50 in the hospital and yes, there was a cake, old friends proved to be present and true. Gregory McKinnon and my sister Linda Herron fastened fierce favors, there were cute salutes, and I was medicinally high on  lots and lots of intravenous Dilaudid.  Again I say, Ain’t God good?

This year HAD to be different, but not  the  Times Square ticker tape parade and confetti image you may have in your heads.

Living half-a-century just ought to teach you how to have your own party and how to celebrate YOU!

If you’ve gotten this far by faith and still don’t know what suits your fancy, then age, time, and wisdom have served you a triad of betrayal.

I don’t require “your-kind” of confetti.

I fashioned my own shredded celebration by cultivating millions of memories, finite experiences, war wounds, he-happens, a hysterectomy, a daughter, a divorce (okay two divorces), three academic degrees, and even a visit from “The Big C.”   In my Sojurner Truth voice: “Ain’t I a Woman?”   Ain't I a woman

Every woman has her truths and many of mine have been time honored, painful journeys that ultimately transformed my soul. Some of the years have simply become sacrificial amnesia sneezes. My 20’s were an existence of Philadelphia Freedom, stone-cold club hopping to help escort RUN-D.M.C. into the world’s realm of tricky rockin’ rhyme. Yup! I used to be a rap music maniac, and I had it bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good.

My 20’s  were the years of Temple University, Greek picnics, lots of sex, and lazy Saturday mornings bringing up the sun with breakfast on South Street after  closing down Club Impulse.

My 20’s were filled with 365 days of Anita Baker, Al Jarreau and Whitney Houston concerts at Valley Forge Music Fair, and extending my heart freely before I knew Sade’s music could make a woman weep and wet a pillow ’til midnight while simultaneously clutching a cheap red blend.

My 20’s were the bomb, and I’d do them again. Easy.

Much like Jesus Christ, I turned 30 and began ministry.   His ministry was miracles; mine was marriage (go figure).

I am an excellent cook, an eclectic interior decorator, a mother to be reckoned with, a passionate lover, but I straight suck at wife.

I am, however, a beast at Scrabble!

Only a miracle likened to parting the red sea could have kept me in such a fragile marital institution of property-owning legalities and vulgar abuse.

No miracle ever came —so I left and gently meandered into my 40s.

The era of 40 served as an arbitrary numerical hardship that ultimately merged into ten years of medical tragedies, east coast relocations, and cumulative debt. By choice, I remember much of nothing about being 41…or  44 for that matter.

There was a 47? And who remembers turning 48? In the grand scheme of singing Happy That Day, 49 may as well be every woman’s leap year.

Finally, 40 passed the baton and 50 graciously reared her beautiful nappy head. Welcome, Her Highness!

Turning 50

Fifty is a golden time-frame of awakened libido and affordable Loire, France libations.

My skin is supple. I am genetically wrinkle free.

My big brown eyes court stress lines of red or on a good day: a semi-healthy white.

My rhythm is still righteous and my right hand is almost as dexterous as my life-used left.

My body and blood cells are both hangin’.

My hardened heart has been restored —I now respect love.

I now respect love.

I now respect love.

Note to self and every woman: you do not have to be in love to respect love.

Brave reflect reveals that at half-a-century plus one,  I’ve learned much.

I’ve learned life is kind.

I’ve learned time is even more kind.

I’ve learned that if you deactivate your Facebook account at crucial intervals, you will be able to hear your own thoughts (and your real friends will call you!)

Facebook PieI’ve learned that everything my mother ever yelled at loud decibels has come to pass.

I’ve learned that I am my mother’s daughter,  my daughter loves her mother, and my granddaughter is a Journey.

I’ve learned that men will be men and when they are not being men, they are merely boys learning how to become men (Amen).

I’ve learned that being divorced for 13 years has served me far better than trying to stay married for even 10 years.

I’ve learned that friend is a six-letter word, enemy is a five-letter word, love is a four-letter word, and numbers mean much!

I’ve learned that insomnia is a gift that awakens “Universe Penny.”  (Insomnia is a big-ole eight-letter word!)
I’ve learned I’m not perfect, but if I let patience have her perfect work, kindness becomes as easy as breathing.
Thank you God for all the breaths I’ve taken for granted over the past half-a-century.

Because I’ve taken the measured time to learn who I am, turning 51 is marvelous and manageable.

Turning 51 has not taken my breath away.

Penny Dickerson 2014

One comment on “My Current Situation: I’m half-a-century plus one

  1. This post resonates with me. It has been a year of loss and recovery. It has left me careful and more cognitive. Thank you for voicing your recognition and making me more appreciative of my own.


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