The last month or so, a number of things have gone quite awry. The point at which I realized I was burned out was when I found myself seriously having to think about whether or not it was worth spending $1000 on a new washing machine in order to avoid tearing the current one apart and replacing a $24 switch that died.
So come Friday, which is my day off. I got to the gym, and deadlifted. (160 pounds. I’m not good, I’m persistent. It’s not my best, but I have to do this in order to build back to that, after the last round of illness.) When I got home, I tried to cook a veggie-packed bobotie in order to use up the last leek, the last red onion, and one of too many zucchini (courgettes) that my husband bought. (My fault; I didn’t put a quantity on the shopping list, and he did best guess.)
After I dropped the third thing in 20 minutes (an 18-pack of eggs. Yes, quiche is on the menu), he declared that I needed to rest. I hadn’t noticed my hands were shaking, but he had. So I finished the dish, and agreed to sit on the couch. That lasted about 10 minutes, before I rebelliously tried to do laundry. I found myself back on the couch, and he picked up Kili-cat, and put her on my chest.
That’s dirty pool. Effective, but dirty pool. It took me hours to get out from under a purring cat.
When I did, I visited with a friend, and then came home. The cat herded me to the bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and was so cute I lay down to pet her. She immediately climbed on my chest.
Still dirty pool, even when the husband’s not to blame. Took me another two hours to get out from under her. About the time I’d decided to get up, my husband came in the room, and I admitted to him that maybe, if the cat could outwit me, I needed the rest. But I shouldn’t. Yes, it’s been a hell of a couple weeks, but I should be on top of it.
He looked at me, and said in the soft, gentle tones in which people deliver Dire News, “You’re not scheduling enough rest for yourself, love.”
“You’re in your fourties. Not your twenties.”
I might have said something quite rude, in response.
He grinned. “I know. I still feel like I’m in my twenties, in my head too. But our bodies don’t agree anymore!”
Maturity, I have concluded, is nothing more than the ability to take responsibility for your own actions, a dreadful wariness about unintended consequences, a memory of deja moo (seen this bullsh-t before), and a large collection of coping mechanisms. And exhaustion. Lots of exhaustion.
When you write older characters, do you have anything else that you put in to distinguish old age and treachery from youth and enthusiasm?