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Elizabeth Dutton


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on aging and loyalty and kindred spirits

I recently hit a birthday milestone, if you’re into that kind of thing. That’s right, I turned 21.  ::eye roll:: Ok, fine. I turned 55.  ::double eye roll::

I was recently out in my storage studio rummaging around for something or another when I came across my old creepers. I’d purchased them on Haight more than 20 years ago and there they were in a box. I took them back into the house  and cleaned them up and they looked good as ever (or as good as creepers ever looked). 

They still fit. It seemed a sort of ridiculous mid-life crisis thing to start wearing them again, but one morning I put them on just to see how bad it would be. They were actually cute. As I walked from my closet back through my bedroom my initial thoughts were on all the shows I’d seen while wearing them. All the college classes they’d walked me to. 

But soon I felt an imbalance. I felt like in Terminator 2 when the T-1000 gets all frozen up and starts to break apart and collapse as he runs then walks then falls to pieces (like poor Patsy Cline). 

It turns out that the soles of decades old creepers don’t hold up so well in storage. The thick platforms were literally crumbling beneath me. It started in the left side and made me walk with a limp. Then the right side blew and I was stumbling all over. 

THANK JAH it happened *before* I went to work. I swapped the shoes out, headed to work and spent the day  sporadically chuckling at that morning’s scene. 

Like everyone/everything else, I am getting old. I’ve been told I look younger than my age, but it’s all a construct anyway. If this were the Middle Ages, I’d already be dead (or burned at the stake for witchcraft for typing out this odd manifesto on a tiny glowing rectangle). The shoes were a sign to me that nothing gold can stay, Pony Boy. I am not, thankfully, the same person I was 20 years ago. Neither are my shoes. 

Some (actually many) of my friends are the same — in name and genetics. But like me, they’ve evolved. Aged. Grown. 

Some have not. Some are still fixated on “glory days” or are so possessed by crippling insecurity (and I say this as someone with an advanced degree in the Insecurity Arts) that they are unable to let things change. Or go. Or evolve. The biggest part of getting older is being able to admit when you’re wrong or to be able to calmly see the other side of an argument instead of spinning out because you are confronted with the fact that you are not, actually, the center of the universe or even the smartest person in the room. It’s rough, but it has to happen. And the older you get, the more impossible it is to float through life on lies and bravado. We basically have to wise up and own up to survive. 

As we grow older, loyalties change. I’ve spent my life laying it all on the line for others only to realize that loyalty to myself must be first and foremost. People treat you the way you treat yourself. That was a hard lesson learned. And it’s a process. But at least I am learning. 

Those who stick with you through the years are your true kindred spirits. They GET you. You aren’t a way to pass the time or a networking contact or an oddity or a means of leverage or a plaything. You connect. You are patient with each other. You celebrate each other. You are honest with each other out of love, rather than some urge to break another person down. You are truly loyal. You don’t walk away. 

I am fortunate to have a solid group of kindred spirits as I move through this temporary earthly plane. We carry each other. We understand each other. And I wouldn’t have made it FORTY YEARS (there, I said it) on this planet without them. 

Take a moment today (or not; I don’t give a shit what you do) to tell your kindred spirits that you love them. We can never hear that kind of thing enough. Tell them they are valuable and you are thankful they are in your life. You’ll feel wise and connected and real. Authentic. Immediate. Here. 

And be careful with your shoes out there. 

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