But X is not a word, I hear you thinking. And you are right and I know I’m cheating in my journey of looking at my life through the magic of words. I’ve used one letter before however: The letter I, which is truly a word in a letter, through which I could describe me. When it comes down to it, language is really a bunch of symbols that stand for something. In this case the single letter X conjures up an extraordinary assortment of things for me.
When I was a kid pirates held an oversized fascination. I used to love going on treasure hunts that my dad would design out of obscure clues. Sometimes he would hand me a map with a prominent X marking where my surprise would be hiding. The quest was never easy and most times I sought extra hints which would encourage my father to pretend to be Blackbeard or the dreaded pirate Bartholomew Roberts. My sons have memories of playing with their granddad using the couch as a ship sailing to uncharted islands searching for buried treasure. I can still hear them all giggling excitedly in faux fear as they fell overboard into shark infested waters. We all shared a love for the film Captain Blood, starring Errol Flynn as the swashbuckler. Much later, after my father had died, I thought of him as I watched the exceptionally good movie, The Princess Bride. I hope to share this film with my grandkids.
I have fond memories of some Xrated films I snuck into as a teen. My friend, who looked older than I did, would get the tickets while I hung back down the street. Knowing I would be quizzed by my mom when I got home I had to gather a few facts about another movie playing in the same area. Digital parental locks on computers and other media make it easier for adults to exclude their children from this type of content but I think if there is a will, there is a way. I wonder if the internet makes it easier to lie imaginatively.
Normally I wear a large sized shirt, but recently I’ve noticed that my wardrobe has been shrinking. I could put it down to a laundry excuse; the dryer was too hot for example. That would work if it was only one item. I think I’ve resolved that my Covid girth is to blame so my next trip to the store will find me looking through the XLarge rack. I will not be able to explain my behaviour if I have to purchase an XXLarge. My shriek will echo throughout the halls of the mall, “Nooooo!”
Size is not the only change that comes with aging. Forgetting where you put things, scabs appearing without remembering you banged into something, missing activities because you are just too pooped to carry on. Life is sometimes learning to say goodbye. I know my time is coming. Maybe there will be a marker somewhere: X marks the spot.