Posts Tagged ‘age’
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a holiday weekend with friends in their 70’s. My husband and I enjoyed their company immensely. After the weekend, I found myself envying their active lifestyle. They seemed to have the enthusiastic ability to go anywhere, hang out with anyone, and enjoy everything. I know many younger couples who aren’t as good company.
We are so fortunate to live in an era when older adults are more fit, more energetic and more active than ever before, but some people allow themselves to age before they need to. If I’m fortunate enough to live a long life, I’ll be dyeing my hair an unnaturally youthful color and lamenting the fact that the fashions in the “juniors” department never used to be cut so small. I can’t help it, I come from a very long line of very vain people. I hope to look as good as I can, for as long as possible, without appearing like an amnesiac who has forgotten her true age.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not crazy about looking older, but I’m not interested in trying to recapture my youth. There is plenty from my younger years I miss, but youth is largely over-rated. With age comes many things that threaten our health and well-being, but looking back on my younger years, I think I’m darned lucky to have survived. By God’s grace, I survived heartbreaks, angst, insecurities, stupidity, countless bad decisions and too many foolish risks.
I am very content with the age I am today, but have little enthusiasm for the “golden” years. As I see it, if youth is Heaven and old age is Hell, I’m in chronological purgatory. It’s an awkward age, but I rather like it here, in this limbo between Forever 21 and AARP. I’d be content to stay here forever, but unfortunately, I’ll soon be revisiting my past. I’m going back to THE Awkward Age.
To go with the arms and legs that have always been a little too long for my body, his week I’m getting braces. Which means, I’m just one bad haircut or acne outbreak away from puberty deja vu. Braces are one of very few things I missed as a teen. Though braces are de rigueur for most teens today, when I was an adolescent they were reserved for families who could afford them or those whose dentitia was bad enough to mandate them. Since I was in neither category, my dentist’s best effort to straighten my teeth, without orthodontics, had to suffice.
I had considered braces a few years ago, because I’d never been completely satisfied with my smile, but as crazy as it sounds, seeing the computer-imaging of my face with a perfect smile, didn’t seem like me. My generous-sized Hispanic teeth, all aligned with perfection, was wasp-y and foreign. On those computer-generated projections, I saw the smile I’d always dreamed of having, but I realized, I liked the one I had just as much. Unfortunately,whether or not we like it, our bodies are continually changing–including our teeth. I had a couple issues in my mouth that continued to progress a little each year. It was time to embrace a new smile in the hopes of having a happier mouth later on. So…this week, I’ll be joining the ranks of millions of adolescents with tin grins.
The preliminary phase of preparation for braces has been more uncomfortable than I’d imagined. I wish I could feel more enthusiastic about the improvements the braces should bring, but right now, I’m just trying to enjoy a last hurrah with fresh vegetables. While my teeth are lining up, like so many tin soldiers ready for inspection, I‘ll be missing chomping on juicy red apples, garden carrots, summer corn, crispy refreshing celery and delicious raw broccoli. Goodbye crunchy & chewy things, maybe we’ll meet again when soup season comes. At least I don’t have to wear headgear.
I have just returned from Stagecoach at Coachella, a two-day country music festival presented in the dusty desert near Palm Springs. The things seen & heard would be enough to provide material for a few blog posts, but two things stand out in my head. Today I’ll share first.
The Coachella festivals are about sun, fun & music; but the scene is also about seeing and being seen. Many women are hoping to catch mens’ eyes, but the competition is stiff. I’m unusual, in that it doesn’t bother me in the least if Beloved Soul Mate is looking at other women. (In my book, his sexuality would be suspect if he didn’t.) Fortunately, he’s an equally good sport, when I occasionally admire the bodies of well-built men. (I say occasionally, because there are far too few well-built men for this girl with a weakness for a manly chests, shoulders and arms.) Arriving at Coachella, it was quickly apparent, we’d both get our fill.
So while, I was admiring a few chiseled pec-decks, he was pretending not to see the thousands of girls who were sashaying around the campground in cut-offs and bikini tops or undersized swimsuits. I considered adopting the mode du jour, of topping a pair of Daisy Dukes with a teensy set of “Dixie” cups, afterall, if Beloved Soul Mate is going to be looking at all the sexy women, there isn’t any reason I can’t be one of them, but going out mostly undressed isn’t me. No matter, even with me dressed there was no shortage of near-nakedness. Every red-blooded male, Beloved Soul Mate, and I were all checking out the girl bods on display. Everywhere one looked, there there were small tops and small bottoms, some of which barely covered large tops and large bottoms. Girls of every size, shape and shade of tan were on display. A percentage of those girls looked amazing, but the greater percentage looked desperate.
Maybe I’ve turned into my mother, because I found myself feeling sorry for some of the young girls hoping their bodies would attract a man. I felt sorry for the ones who would wake up after the weekend feeling used, because they’ve yet to realize the fleeting attraction of flesh, sorry for girls who don’t yet have the confidence to trust the other stuff they have to offer, and sorry for the ones who don’t realize they are encouraging men to take advantage of them. It made me thankful for my age.
It doesn’t seem long ago, that I was one of the younger gals in any group, but time passes much faster than an inexperienced girl can imagine. Fortunately, with time we learn a few things–including what makes for lasting attractiveness. Though it’s isn’t likely I’ll be mistaken for a 20-something, I love and admire the face I see in the mirror. If I don’t look too closely, or too early in the morning, I can convince myself I’m beautiful. More than that, the woman in the mirror, knows stuff. Her face is full of joy, strength and the wisdom of lessons-learned. The innocence of the face that used-to-be, has been replaced by one that is the product of life-experiences–a substance sort of like cosmetic fillers for the psyche. My vintage face is not nearly as perfect, as the face I wore at 25, but it isn’t a bad substitute for the one that preceded it. Truth be known, I like this one better.
The attractive young girls, compare themselves to older women and can’t imagine ever being one. They look at the aging bodies of their mothers and are justifiably smug about their bodies and fresh faces. Why not? To young women, external appearance is beauty. What they don’t know is while they are feeling smug about their attractiveness, I am feeling equally smug.
If any one of those young gals woke up tomorrow with grey roots or crow’s feet, she’d be lost, devastated. She wouldn’t know who she was. She might readily trade her soul for the perky breasts or pouty lips she once took for granted. Those young girls might be beautiful, but they know little of the kind of beauty that lasts.
I am the kind of person who attends bridal and baby showers, gets together with the girls for any reason and attends odd gatherings like class reunions. Since there are way more showers than class reunions, I would hate to miss a reunion.
For me, it is an opportunity to catch up with old friends. In this case they are both friends who I’ve known a very long time and friends who like myself have somehow become older. Just saw an album of photos taken at another pal’s class reunion– I’ve seen a couple of those recently. The people in them look too old to be my peers. They look like someone’s parents or grandparents.
The little waif who was the Head of the Glee Squad, is now the Captain of the Mom Squad.
The handsome hunk who played hockey is now more pudgy than pumped, and from his gait, I’m guessing he has hip and back issues.
The kid voted most likely to succeed, failed.
The kid who had the the best smile, has bad caps and bridgework.
The kid, who spent most of high school being shoved into lockers, seems to have bounced through life better than the rest.
High school is not an accurate barometer for forecasting the future.
Like seeds blown from a dandelion, old classmates are quickly scattered. Some bloom, some are lost, some die, some just continue blowing in the wind. With each passing year there are fewer.
Talking to some of my former classmates, I realize even many years after the fact, high school has a strange significance. I rarely think about high school, I had good times and knew some great people, but to me it’s a collection of individual memories, not a conglomerate experience.
This isn’t true for everyone. There are those who are eager to revisit their glory days. Others are still reliving the bad memories. There are some who barely remember and don’t care to. Except for that latter category of folks for whom high school has little if any significance, high school reunions seem to be out of scale with what they actually represent.
My ego is too far removed from high school to care about how I am perceived. Additionally, I don’t really care if my friends are still living with their parents or have off-shore bank accounts. Folks are folks–a few years away from high school and most are more interesting and better company. So with no expectations other than a good time, I will attend and enjoy my class reunion. I will miss those who chose not to go because of stupid things that happened decades ago. I probably won’t be impressed by those who wish me to be.
I have only two desires for the reunion. I hope the name tags are easy to see, and when the cameras come out, I am hoping that my peers and I look younger than we are.
Post Script: Just returned from the high school reunion.
It would seem that ones’ reunion would be about revisiting the past.
Amazingly, quite the opposite was true. There were so few mentions of the “then“. The reunion is a “now” event–a who are you now event–not in the how-much-money do you make sense, but in the how is your life going sense.
In reflecting on this one, I realize that it was the best yet because most of the people who make the effort to show up are doing so because they genuinely want to reconnect with old friends. The ten-year isn’t far enough removed from high school to be about that.
Over the past few months, I didn’t have the luxury of reading for pure enjoyment, because the time ordinarily spent, was taken up with other reading. In an attempt to reestablish my reading-for-pleasure habit, I combed my bookshelf for an easy read. First book chosen, was about the psychology of happiness. Not bad. Not great. Not very engrossing. It was informative, mostly asserting that some people are happier than others. (242 pages to tell me this?) I’d already come to that conclusion, and since I’m pretty happy, it wasn’t very helpful.
After putting that book aside, I spied another title that seemed a sure-thing–Extraordinary Sex Now.
I chose this book with same kind of discrimination, I employ with almost every other book I buy–in other words, none. About 70% of the titles I read are thrift store-born whims. This particular book seemed a better-than-average value. $1.50 for extraordinary sex??? How could I possibly go wrong?????
Just finished it. It was about as helpful as the book on happiness–mostly an extraordinary waste of time. Apologies to the author, but this book is about having what I would consider ordinary sex. By ordinary, I mean sex, in which dysfunction does not play a hindering role. It was closer to duller sessions of marriage counseling, than it was to inspiration for extraordinary intimacy.
The book suggested that my partner and I would more-or-less fit in one of four animal categories; lion, otter, bear, or bee. Near as I can tell, I’m a lion. No, I think I’m an otter. Wait, maybe I’m an otter with lion traits–or a lion with otter tendencies. It was easier to figure out what I wasn’t, than what I was, and it started me thinking about another animal-type that I’m not—the Cougar.
The Cougarrific lifestyle has become very trendy. I’m not in the dating scene, but even if I were, I think it’s safe to say I have NO cougar tendencies. I have a couple of girlfriends who are seeing younger men. If it works for them, I’m all for it, but in general, I’m not a fan of the older woman/younger man dynamic.
Call me old-fashioned, but to me, it smacks of mother/son. Women can’t help but nurture, which is great, but when it turns parental, it seems like dysfunction. This isn’t always true, but I’ve seen many examples of the older woman/younger man relationship falling into that pattern. To me a guy who partners with someone who “mothers” him, just doesn’t seem very manly.
I think in most cases, the Cougar “thing” is usually about Stella getting her groove back. It’s about having a good time and feeling desired. In those instances, I’d say it’s more a therapeutic stop-gap, than a real partnership.
A guy friend suggested to me, that the trend was the response of more liberated and less inhibited mature women who weren’t ready to stop living. Some of these women, upon finding themselves available at later ages, also discover the men in their own age group are settling down. It seems that after a certain age, many men begin starting to enjoy nesting & resting, more than going for the gusto; and too many of them seem to prefer weekends with the remote to weekends in remote locales.
In an era when women are enjoying more freedom, more economic independence and are better able to keep themselves feeling attractive, fit, and vital; the desire to be desired and fulfilled is larger than it was for previous generations. Not only that, but today’s woman is more sexual than ever, causing many to crave physically fulfilling relationships. Who wouldn’t?
Still, even when I was much younger, I wanted a man of a certain maturity–a man, not a guy who was still trying to become one. I remember too well, the insecurities and unsure qualities of 20-something guys. Been there. Done that. No thanks. For me, there isn’t anything more attractive than a man with his own well-defined sense of self.
That aside, there are other reasons it wouldn’t work for me. Trying to imagine it, I’m seeing how even a casual dinner date might be problematic.
Sitting across a table listening to the conversation of a man who has been through some stuff, seems like a more interesting evening, than having to listen to the idealism of a man with limited life-experience. Even if dinner wasn’t tediously boring, there would be the matter of the check. It’s been years since I’ve picked up my own tab–except with girlfriends. If I were with a younger man, I might have to. I might be old enough to be a Cougar, but I might also be too old to want to remember how to calculate a tip. Even if I felt differently, if we couldn’t get through dinner, there probably wouldn’t be much chance of things going further.
So to all the Cougar gals—-girrrrrl, your boyfriend looks good. Rrrrrl! There is nothing as visually delightful as the unspoiled beauty of youth, but it’s nothing compared to the assured, seasoned attractiveness men acquire with time. So, while you may catch me watching one of those young bucks walking past, for this lioness, there’s still something about an old stag.
1. Scandling, Sandra R. (1998) Extraordinary Sex Now: A Couples Guide to Intimacy
Deb’s note: Our country was built with the foundational ideal that happiness is worth pursuing. Though I can’t recommend the book mentioned above, if you’re committed to being happy, I encourage you to read Dennis Prager’s book “Happiness is a Serious Problem”. It’s cheap, easy to read, readily available, AND it’s chock full of life-changing goodness!
Jose Carlos is celebrating his birthday this week. His mother was telling me the plans she had made for the celebration. I squatted down to ask my wee friend about his birthday. He doesn’t speak English, so I asked, “¿Cuántos años tiene?”
It’s the Spanish equivalent of “How old are you, but translates as “How many years do you have?”
Little Jose Carlos shows five fingers, and tells me that on Monday he will have six years.
¿Cuántos años tiene, Usted? How many years do you have?
I have decades plus change. Those years have left with me residue of experiences and volumes of memories–all kinds. It’s a lot, but it’s not much.
If I had this much experience in any career field, I would be considered an authority. If I were called to testify about things I’d learned, I’d be an expert witness. If I had been involved in a club or organization that long, no doubt they’d name me historian.
Except this is life. Having so many years behind me, hardly makes me an expert. In fact, even with so many years, I’m more like a precocious trainee, blundering through with the little I know.
As I celebrated my own birthday this past week, I decided to answer the question I’d asked Jose Carlos. In fact, I’ve decided to replace the question, “How old are you?” with the Spanish version “How many years do you have”.
Instead of looking back and counting years gone by, I’m looking to the years ahead. If I had as many ahead of me as behind, I could look forward to reaching a very respectable old age. Though I’m still on the enviable side of middle age, the reality is what we refer to as “middle-age” is usually well past the middle.
Knowing this makes the question even more pressing.
How many years do you have?
Do you have 30 behind you and 50 ahead?
Do you have 40 behind you and 40 ahead?
Do you have 50 behind you and an undetermined number ahead?
As an algebraic equation, AGE + years left = LIFE; might be written:
A + Y = L
To solve this problem, it would be necessary to define the product. In this case the product, would be the sum total of life.
My husband, beloved soul mate and math maven, couldn’t solve the equation without more information–there are too many variables.
Even knowing the quantity that represents my age and the product I’d like to achieve at the end of age, there is no way of determining the number of years that I have left.
It’s what math guys would call an unknown. There is simply no way to determine the number. Knowing this, I’ve resolved to concentrate on what I’d like to add in the years ahead.
From now on, instead of allowing candles, on an over-decorated cake, to quantify my life, I’m going to focus on the years ahead. Blowing out the candles, I’ll make a wish. With any luck, when the equation is completed, the quantity won’t be nearly as remarkable as their quality.