19 June 2010

Facing the Face of Age

When I was 25 years old, a young boy, son of a friend, told me I was middle-aged. I smiled of course, concealing the outrage, and without asking he explained. “If people live to be 72, and life is split up between young, middle aged and old, then 24 – 48 is middle-aged.” Apparently the kid was a math genius. One could not argue the logic, I suppose.

Now that boy would surely find me to be quite old. 62 next month, only a decade from my demise, according to his logic. And while I certainly don’t look or feel 25 or even middle-aged, I am surely not old, and I don’t feel much older than, perhaps, 45. Statistically, all Americans feel themselves to be younger than they are, all except new parents, who feel older. Understood. Been there as well. In truth, I feel quite young most of the time. Oh yes, I look in the mirror and see a woman who looks close to my real age. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself. But my energy levels are quite high. I can walk miles without breaking a sweat, and continue to walk almost every day. I was even able to keep up with my older daughter’s pace while we were wandering Scotland recently, the London girl who walks like her New Yorker mother [something about the apple and the tree.] At Pilates class I keep up with my much younger cohorts. I sleep through the night, most of the time, and sleep well, which is terribly important to me as I get really grouchy when I don’t get enough sleep, which those of you who know me well will attest to. I rarely have bags under my eyes and even the wrinkles, and there are plenty, aren’t too deep. My teeth are moving around and my bite is off but orthodonture will fix that, and would have fixed that when I was a girl if my parents could have afforded that. So I'll compensate for the sins of my youth.

I try not to look back [a sure sign of age] and almost always look forward. I still have a desire for adventure, in fact more so than ever before, and continually scour the Internet for affordable travel. Even a visit back to the east coast is cause for celebration; homecoming, albeit less exhilarating, is as satisfying as distant shores.

I do continue to play the geographical destiny game, that existential dilemma that plagues so many people my age [an expression that I’ve already grown to despise] in which we’re not sure where we truly belong. I ran into an associate the other day who has lived in Laguna Beach 20 years and loved it, but while he longs for a more citified environs, not sure where he will go. I came home from Scotland thinking I want to live in an Edinburgh in a temperate climate, preferably by the Pacific, but not sure such a place exists. What are we willing to give up at this stage of life [another abhorrent expression] and what are acceptable compromises? How do we balance the need for change with the need for permanence and security in the midst of old age? Yes, old age. Ouch.

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