Something weird happened to me in the midst of preparing this issue of our paper for publication: I turned 65.

I seldom mention my age, especially in print, especially to thousands of people at the same time. This year is different, and I must address it.

I am now eligible for the real senior discount: Medicare.

Never mind the difficulties I ran across in applying – somehow, something in my online application caused a piece of my identity to be questioned. (At the time of this writing, there have been four emails, five text messages, and 11 phone calls back and forth trying to resolve the issue. No, I didn’t wait until the last minute to apply.)

In chatting with my cousin Pam, who is 10 days older than I, we decided the celebration should last all year. This is special! This is a big deal – like one’s 21st birthday all over again, except we’re a little older.

But our brave and adventurous spirits remain the same youthful age.

I have decided that this should be a year of “awesome.” I don’t often use that word – for me, it should be reserved for something truly astonishing in nature, like a magnificent mountain view or a brilliant full moon, or the Grand Canyon.

I’m ready for some adventures of a different and remarkable sort – the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to do, but never quite got things together to DO it. Or something that I’ve done before and that I enjoyed but haven’t done in quite some time.

One item in that latter category is coming right up. You might have heard that I am appearing in an upcoming play, “Steel Magnolias,” at May River Theatre. (See more information in our arts section!)

This will be the first time in more than a decade that I’ve been onstage. (Before that, there was almost a 25-year gap between my performances.)

Another artsy thing I want to try is learning to weave (on a real loom). There’s something comforting in the feel of a woven scarf, for instance. And how amazing is it that a piece of woven textile can be created from just two strings?

Maybe I’ll re-learn how to ride a motorcycle. I’ve always said, “When I’m 80, I want to be that granny on the Harley.” I have just 15 years to make that happen!

Travel has to be on my list. There’s a big world out there, but honestly, I don’t think I’d have the patience for an international journey. I’d be fine to rent an RV and drive across the good ol’ USA. Perhaps I would start with seeking out every waterfall in North Carolina.

Maybe a road trip would provide an opportunity to stop talking and start writing that book buried in my brain. And, expecting that my husband would join me, he can illustrate it. (My book, not my brain.)

Of course, if I hit the road, I’d have to either retire or edit this newspaper remotely. (Please don’t mention anything to my publisher until I have time to speak with him about this wild idea.)

But it’s not just big adventures I seek. I know that real joy can be found in every day.

I’ll close with these wise words from cousin Pam as our conversation ended: “Carpe diem – seize the day – for real! If you are 65, the reality is that there are more days behind you than in front. Let that scare wash over you. Then seize your days. Savor, experience and enjoy them as much as possible. This will create enthusiasm that is worth sharing You can let your joy be infectious and it will spread faster than COVID. Not too shabby for a senior citizen. Now, go get your day.”