I’ve almost finished my 58th year of life. In English I will say, "I am fifty-eight." In Russian, this is said, "To me fifty-eight summers." And in Spanish it is, "I have fifty-eight years."
Anything but your own mother tongue sounds odd, of course, but I like the way it is expressed in Spanish. Let me explain.
The English way of expressing it makes it a state of being. It’s like "I am a rock; I am a hedgehog." This is the way it is and that is all there is to it. My age is a defining quality.
The Russian makes it sound like the years just happened. They were a train and I was standing by the tracks, and they just rumbled past me.
Both of these ways of describing it do capture a certain facet of the truth. They represent different mindsets.
But I like the Spanish way.
My years are things that I own. Did I take care of my years? Have my years taken care of me? Do I treasure them? Do they provide me comfort? Do I look at them as if they were a basement that’s filled with rotting refuse? It depends on the year.
The last week before faculty were set to report back to the university, I took Friday off. Which is to say, I took it off in whatever way we can take days off after we learned to work from home.
In any case, I took the day off, and I worked on the garage door. Our new garage is getting close to thirty years old, and even though the opening mechanism has been replaced, it is the same door.
Our garage door is connected to the garage by rails. There are wheels on axles that connect the door to the rails. The wheels fit within grooves on the rails and the axles are attached to the door through hinges. The hinges are bolted to the door and the axles fit freely through holes that are parallel to the door itself.
I said all of that to say that a few weeks ago, one of the wheels popped out of its groove in its rail. This caused the door to be stuck open. At that time, I went out and fixed it. It wasn’t too bad. By this I mean there was no blood. I used my socket set and while the hinges kept wanting to fall off because I was working arm’s length over my head, I managed to get them back on.
When I was done, I noticed two things: One, if I had used clamps, there would’ve been no trouble with the hinges wanting to fall off; and two--duh duh duuuh--the hinge I put the axle through had *two* holes parallel to the garage door.
When I was done, the door closed; the door opened again. Unit test: Passed!
Time passes. Then comes the last week I will have any flexibility until Thanksgiving, and a wheel pops out of a groove on my garage door.
This was a different wheel on the opposite side.
This time I was prepared. I used my clamps, took off the hinge, reinserted the wheel in the grove, bolted it all back on. I closed the door, and it went down nicely.
Then, like you do, I opened it again.
And an entirely different wheel popped out of the groove.
This is where we go back to the "duh duh duuuh." If there are two holes you can put your axle through, you will invariably put it through the wrong one. I went back over the job and made sure all of the axles were where they needed to be.
Why did I share all this? It is because there was a time when there would’ve been blood. There would’ve been trips to the hardware store and, perhaps, to the emergency room. But "Tengo casi cincuenta ocho años," I have almost fifty-eight years. My years are my asset, and I have taken care of some of them. I’ve learned a thing or two.
Some may have gone past like a freight train. Some of them are just me. But I’ve owned some of them and treated them well.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to "like" the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.