It’s a strange experience, occupying a space that someone else had made her own for decades. All the furniture has been picked out, all the walls are painted, the art chosen, the plants planted. She’s not here, and yet she’s everywhere.
Which is not a bad thing, necessarily. For the most part, I like her taste. I would have liked her, I’m sure. But it’s time to make this place ours.
Slowly, but surely, we’re introducing change. We’re adding the new and getting rid of the old. We’re keeping the good, and getting rid of what no longer fits. We’re rearranging. We’re changing colors, here and there. We’ve had a garage sale. We’ve planted a tree.
Just recently we painted a glow-in-the-dark milky way on the ceiling. Adolescent as that may sound, I’ve had it in my last two houses, and I find it comforting to stare at as I drift off to sleep. So doing that meant a lot to me.
You don’t really think too much about marking territory unless you have dogs, but we humans do it, too. We just do it with paint and pillows and photos. It’s how you make a house a home.
When I was young and I’d hear an older person say they were getting old and forgetful, I used to smile and say I couldn’t wait to have that excuse for my absentmindedness. I’ve always been easily distracted. Flaky, even.
But now I’m starting to get it. As I age, it’s getting much, much worse. And that’s terrifying. It is no fun, no fun at all, to know you can no longer rely on your own brain. Especially when you live alone.
Today I accidentally left my to-do list at home, and I’m a bit freaked out. I’m fairly certain that I’m forgetting to do something that’s time-sensitive and important, but for the life of me, I can’t recall what it is. That’s a helpless feeling. I don’t like it. That’s why I created the to-do list in the first place.
And I’m starting to forget words. I know what I want to say conceptually. It’s on the tip of my tongue. I just can’t always verbalize it. “Please pass me the… the… you know. That thing.”
Do you have any idea how scary it is for a writer not to be able to come up with a word? And since I’m not currently in a nice comfortable relationship where the other person can finish my sentences for me, odds are that the person I’m talking to doesn’t know what thing I’m referring to.
The older I get, the more I feel like I’m traveling in a land where I don’t speak the language and I don’t have a map or an itinerary. And while I do love to travel, I love to be able to communicate even more. This is a confusing place. I’d like to go home now.
Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too!http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
My whole life I’ve been told that old people tend to be set in their ways. People always sound sad when they say this. Poor old folks. They don’t know how to change. They can’t keep up. They’re stubborn and their minds are closed to new ideas. What a shame.
Naturally, the older I get and the more set in my ways I become, the more my perspective changes on this subject. I don’t see myself as recalcitrant. In fact, I love new ideas and new perspectives. But after decades of trial and error, I also know what works for me, and what doesn’t.
For example, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to look and act the way I thought people wanted me to. The result was that I was always uncomfortable and unhappy with the results. I’m not a girly girl. I never was. I never will be. I’m tired of trying to force myself into the shoebox that society wants me in. So from now on I dress for myself, not for anyone else. Don’t like it? Tough.
I also have a very strong sense of the types of people I want in my life. Decent, caring, reliable people. People who accept me for who I am. People who have outgrown the whole party animal mindset. People with integrity and a moral compass. And those people are usually fairly easy to spot. Am I being unfair to those whom I dismiss? Maybe. But as my expiration date draws ever nearer, I find I have much less time to waste on foolishness and drama.
So am I set in my ways? I prefer to call it comfortable in my own skin. Either way, this is who I am. Love it or don’t.
Yep. I’m getting old. I have slight arthritis in my hips, and some mornings it feels as though they’re not going to support my weight for a few seconds there. Rather than a morning smoker’s hack (the sound of my mother’s made me a nonsmoker for life), I have a morning hobble and groan.
I’ve also been feeling a twinge in my knee of late. As with small sounds in my car, I keep ignoring it, hoping it will go away. Fingers crossed…
And bell peppers don’t agree with me anymore. That’s a shame, because I like them. But if I eat them, I know I’ll soon regret it.
And the more grey my hair becomes, the more kinky and unmanageable it gets. It seems I did not inherit my mother’s silky, lustrous silver tresses. I’ll probably be one of those unruly, witchy women, in appearance as well as in word and deed.
But even though I miss my 19 year old body, I don’t miss the 19 year old me. If all these aches and pains are the price I have to pay for a life well lived, full of lessons and experiences, then I’ll take it. I’ll take it and come back for seconds.
While struggling to care for my desperately ill dog, I’ve come to notice the difference between old friends and new friends. My old friends already know how devastating this inevitable loss is going to be for me. They witnessed firsthand how much my dog and I have been through, and what a comfort he has been to me.
New friends, on the other hand, require a bit more energy than I have at this depressing time. They need the back story that I don’t have the strength to give. They need not only complete sentences, but entire paragraphs. They are every bit as compassionate and caring, but they have to be brought up to speed. They have no idea what a basket case this situation has turned me into, because they’ve never seen me in basket case mode.
There is something reassuring about not having to complete your sentences. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of being understood. It’s so much easier to build a structure when the foundation has already been laid.
I’m not discounting my new friends. I have no doubt that what we will build together will be amazing, too. I just hope they can be patient with me right now.
As I cuddle with my sick dog and feel helpless, that old girl scout song keeps running through my head. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
There’s nothing quite like being a single woman in your 50’s. If you are attempting to date an age-appropriate man, you have to not only find someone who isn’t too set in his ways to be able to commit, but you also have to weed through the great percentage of them who are still operating in a fantasy world.
Here are a few things I’ve recently read in the on-line profiles of my male contemporaries:
I prefer women who are a size three.
I still want to have children.
I will only respond to women between the ages of 18 and 35.
My dream girl should be at least 5’10” and less than 130 pounds.
I’m attracted to innocent looking women with waif-like features.
Seeking someone who is athletic and healthy.
I won’t tolerate any baggage whatsoever.
Please understand that while I totally get that the heart wants what it wants, these are men in their late 50’s, most of whom are pot-bellied and balding, with a fair amount of baggage of their own. If they get the thing they are looking for, what they are most likely getting is a woman who wants a sugar daddy. That’s not love. That’s not healthy.
Yeah, yeah, before you say anything, I know that there are plenty of women out there with unrealistic expectations as well. But I’m not trying to date them. And the world, or at least this blog, revolves around me.
And meanwhile, there are real and amazing women out there, like me, who are watching these old farts die off, safe in their fantasy worlds, while we go to bed alone every night, hugging our pillows, with plenty of love to give said farts. What a waste.
People, if you don’t adjust your expectations with your age, you will be old and alone.
I’ve spent much of my life fearing the passage of time. I wasn’t obsessed with the topic, but I didn’t want to get older, that was for sure. What a waste of energy that fear was.
First of all, aging is inevitable. All the plastic surgery and vitamins and exercise in the world isn’t going to stop it. We all have an expiration date. (And thank goodness for that! The planet is crowded enough.)
But here’s what kind of took me by surprise: I like myself a lot more than I did at 19. Granted, I wouldn’t mind having my 19-year-old body back, but if I had to be the person I was at 19 to achieve that goal, I’d turn down the offer.
At 19 I was on a hormonal roller coaster. I was desperate to be liked, and really concerned about what other people thought. I didn’t know where my life was going, and spent a lot of time comparing my insides to other people’s outsides. I wasted a lot of energy dwelling on how unfair life was, and trying really hard to get… where, exactly? What, exactly? I had no idea. All I knew was that things were supposed to be much, much better than they were. I don’t know where the ruler came from that I was using to measure my life, but I knew I was falling short, and therefore I was pretty miserable for the most part.
And then a funny thing happened. As I got older, I made a lot more mistakes. I learned a lot more lessons. I had a lot more experiences, and accumulated a lot more memories. And I came to realize that not only am I the sum total of all that stuff, but also I still have so much to look forward to! I now know that I’ll never be able to predict the path my life will take, but now that excites me.