The Story of 5-0Category: General   Oct 25th 2017  08:50PM   0

When I was in my late 30s, a psychic told me I’d be very happy in my 50s. He said I’d have a great life from that age on. I wanted to kick him—that's 12 years away, for Christ's sake. Instead I smiled and nodded, then stewed about it for a decade. (Not really…just three or four years.) I like to think I manifest my own destiny—to some degree, anyway—but I never forgot his words, his very provocative prediction. 

The year I turned 44, one night over dinner with a client, I was being self-deprecating about “officially” entering my (gasp) mid-40s. My wise and worldly patron took on a mock conspiratorial tone, whispering to me loudly, The world’s best kept secret, which no one talks about, is that life actually begins at 50

This man was living his best life. Most of my clients are. Still, I had no idea, back then, what mine had in store. Or at any time before then. There has never been a time in my life where I could confidently state where I’d be 2-3 years down the road. It’s a destabilizing condition, but you learn to live with it. It is what it is. 

Which is not to say, necessarily permanent. 

When I was 48, I told one of my closest friends that I planned to retire at 50. I said I thought it would be, well … unseemly, to do this work at that age. I couldn’t explain why, because it wasn’t my opinion I’d voiced, but the rest of the world’s perception on what is and isn’t “age appropriate.”

This friend of mine gets me like very few women do. We’re both strong, independent, self-employed women “of a certain age,” who work hard, do yoga, and go dancing to go dancing (not to find a mate). We attract men who think we hung the moon, but who are usually intimidated by us, and have low emotional IQs. We prioritize intense connections, but will take indefinite solitude over a single night with the wrong dude. (Well, maybe one night…but whatever, we do not suffer fools.) We’re fanatical about health and knowledge. We’re self-aware, spiritually minded, unapologetically passionate, and intuitively gifted. She’s is my role model. I call her my Spirit Animal. Like my very own Yoda (except much much hotter). 

When I fed her that line about retiring—a fifty-something companion just wouldn’t look right—she shook her head and said, “I think you’re wrong. I think it would look amazing!” 

I realized she was right, but at the time, it hardly mattered. Back then, business was slow. For roughly 2 years, my companionship business died a slow, sad (near) death. I’d quit at age 50, but only if the business didn’t quit me first.

Around that time, in the spring of 2016, I trained for a new line of work in a field I’m quite passionate about. I saw one or two clients per month, and spent the rest of my time studying, training, and learning the business, and polishing the manuscript my agent was already shopping around. During that time I was frugal, as business trickled in, just enough to cover my (not insignificant) monthly nut, plus exorbitant medical bills. I was barely getting by, between my 2 paying jobs—the companionship work and new enterprise—while pouring everything left over into my writing (which, back then, was an expense versus anything resembling income producing). 

I couldn’t take on more work, at the time, income generating or otherwise. I had medical stuff to manage, including two otherwise inconsequential female “issues” that were misdiagnosed five damn times, until I figured out both issues myself (thanks, Google Scholar). I also had 2 rounds of injections into my degenerated spine (one would’ve been enough had I not gone dancing 8 days after the first procedure, but in my defense MACEO FREAKING PARKER was at Antone's…so yeah, a 2nd round was needed). Somewhere in there, I had yet another ungodly expensive rhinoplasty revision. 

It was a lot of down time, but I made good use of it.

After eight years, my chronic back pain has reduced by almost 75%. And though my nose will never be as refined and lovely as it was, I can breathe again, sleep again, and feel relatively sure it’s as straight as the average non-botched person’s. (It could be worse; I could be on death row for murdering that piece of shit butcher / surgeon with my bare hands…or one swift kick in the head.)

One year ago, my agent sold my book. Two weeks later, my 6-month-old business exploded. It has not slowed since. I’ve worked every day this year, save maybe 10. If I did nothing but focus on the new business, I’d fill a 40-hour work week with no additional marketing. Just like my first year as a companion, I’ve had to raise my rates repeatedly to stem the tide, in order to have any time to apply to my other two jobs.

I revised and polished my manuscript this year, to a degree not even I thought myself capable of. My editor is thrilled. My publisher and industry reps are through the roof. Now I must build an author platform—another 20 hour/week endeavor. 

Most of my time is split between writing/publishing tasks, and day job requirements. The third I fit in when I can, and that statement makes me a little sad. This one is my baby…the job I’d planned to retire from this month, when I turned 50. My life is changing for the better, and next year will evolve exponentially. And yet, I enjoy companionship work more than ever…despite (or maybe because) it’s become a sideline for me. 

For six years it was my only job, and for four of them it provided a balanced schedule and adventurous yet relaxed life. Now it’s something I can only cram into the rare empty spaces (no pun intended). As far as that goes, the intimacies I experience through the work, are all that I have time for. My day job plays out differently, with it's own unique set of boundaries. And as a writer, I’m hunched over a laptop all day, and wouldn’t feel a man between my legs unless, maybe, he bit me. (Then I’d have to kick him in the head and neither of us would get laid.)

Point is, I’m not retiring this year. That day is coming, but instead of me choosing it, I suspect it’ll tell me when it’s here.

I’ve shifted things a bit, by necessity. For example, travel dates are tough to fit into a nonstop 7 day/week schedule. I prefer dinner dates to end by 9 or 10pm, but midday trysts are welcome. Most surprising, I now occasionally enjoy the company of younger men. I’ll still make the drive to Houston for a good client, but only a miracle could make me drive to Dallas. I have officially done my time on that stretch of I-35. (No one my age should be forced to navigate that Central Texas circle of hell one more time.)

I'm not disappearing for months, maybe a year (or more…though not by much). The book comes out next spring, at which point I’ll do some traveling. I have day job commitments in the Bay Area next year, and may do a book reading while there. I may also travel to Seattle and Portland, and take companionship appointments if I have time. I’ll be a one-woman traveling circus, working all 3 jobs on the road. Three live chainsaws in the air…because I’m just not ready to let this one go.

Besides, when life showers you in abundance, you simply must live it up. I like to think my writing could take off like the new business has, but whatever my career focus becomes, this one is a part of me. It has been since my teens. Professional companionship is threaded into the fabric of my half-century life, cemented into my identity. It’s a big part of who I am…one aspect anyway, that’s seen me through thick and thin, even as these new ones rear their equally unpredictable, unconventional heads. 

Who knew life would be so fun, flush, and fascinating at 50?! Oh, wait…one psychic, one friend, and at least one client. So…now you know too. (Shhh…don’t tell, and try not to kick anyone in the head before you get here.)


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