Old 

It comes as a surprise to me that I’m old. I don’t feel old, and have a hard time seeing myself as being old when I think about the future.

One reason is denial. I am not old because there are people older than me; they are old, not me. As long as there are Baby Boomers cluttering up the place I am not old. And I just learned Lenny Kravitz is older than me.

Being old now is different from being old in the past. Not that many people got to be old, but the previous century changed a lot of that. Just referencing “the previous century ” makes me feel a little old then I remind myself this century is less than 20 years old, so chill. Not old, not me, not yet.

This was made clear a few weeks ago, from of all things,  watching All in the Family, a 70’s sitcom. 

As a little kid watching this show Archie and Edith were Old, with a capital O. He was balding and gray, and always bringing up World War II. She was frumpy and absent minded, confused by new and modern things. So I had this image of them as practically elderly and even watching the show with my dad now they are still old. 

The high school reunion episode blew my mind. Edith was invited to her 30th year high school reunion and Archie, who didn’t graduate, didn’t want to go with her. I did some math and realized they were 48 years old. I’m older than both of them were at that time. That was what 48 looked like in the 70’s. Mind blown. 

To me being old is being sick, weak and afraid. I don’t want to be any of those things and I fight against it. I am aware my mother died when she was 7 years older than I am now. Jerry was 52 when he died, but had the physical condition of an 80 year old. So I walk, occasionally do yoga and try to take the stairs when possible. I did the Memorial race thinking about people I know who couldn’t do this, people my age, some older and some younger and I felt grateful to be there. I hope to be active and healthy as long as possible and to kick diabetes’s ass for years to come. 

The only time I feel old is when I look in the mirror. I wonder who is that old hag  and what happened. There are bags under my eyes no matter how much sleep I got the night before. 

I still have reservations about plastic surgery, but procedures like injections are not too extreme. I’m vain enough for it. I may be old but darned if I’m going to look it.

I don’t intend to be dowdy and timid like Edith. Once a woman is 40 she is supposed to cut her hair, to wear neutral colors and flats. I did not, except for the flats but my low heeled shoes of choice are sneakers. Always have been, I  still wear jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. I’m beyond wanting to impress anybody.  I still have long hair, dyed not my natural color. I am quiet but will assert myself and make my presence known, if needed. It’s a strange thing, I couldn’t do it when I was younger but now I can. 

I am much the same person I’ve always been. Conventional wisdom says people get more conservative as they get older but my politics haven’t really changed, the main difference is I don’t freak out as much. After all this time it takes a lot to shock me.  Gossip, supposedly a hobby of old ladies, does not interest me. A lot of stuff that old ladies are supposed to like, such as sewing, crafting and quilting, is not for me, mostly because I lack the skills but I don’t really care to acquire them either.

Yet there’s so much I still want to see and do. I want to travel more, to go to places I’ve never been,  I want to see the new Wonder Woman movie, read the new Neil Gaiman book, read a lot of books really. I want to do another half marathon, maybe more than one. I want to learn to make spring rolls. I want to see if this colonizing Mars thing really happens, and see if a woman becomes president. I want to see the Wings win at least another Stanley Cup, that alone may take years.

Old people retreat from new ideas and technology, change is the enemy. Stuff was better back in the day, no matter what. Perhaps I am getting there because music was better way back in my youth. I like Art Deco and movies from the silent era to the 50’s.  But I don’t fear or hate change the way old people do. I admit I am ticked off at Microsoft over Windows 10, trying to make people pay for Word and Excel–that’s a rant in itself. Maybe I am old after all. Crap. 

At least I haven’t yelled at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn.

I think Maurice puts it well. From one of those old movies I like.

Contradiction

A lot of life, my life anyway, is a contradiction. I want to be strong and fit but I don’t want to do anything that requires effort. One new contradiction has appeared, like a zit you notice when you are brushing your teeth in the morning. An irritating surprise you hope no one notices, that you hope goes away soon.

After my husband passed away nearly 3 years ago I knew I’d be alone the rest of my life. I could not, cannot imagine ever dating or getting married again. The idea repulsed me at first, and just considering the idea made me feel guilty and odd. I still feel it is not for me, and I’m okay with being alone and celibate. I am not ecstatic about it but comfortable and peaceful with it.

I acknowledge that I am a solitary person, with my peculiarities and I’m old enough to know what makes me content, to surround myself with books, music and those things that I enjoy. I don’t worry that my likes or opinions are not typical for a middle-aged woman in this part of the world. I’m finally comfortable with my weirdness and frankly don’t give a flying rat’s butt anymore.

Part of being deviant is being alone, having no desire to “get out there.” Some widows do date, want to date, have romantic relationships and even get married again. I think most people want this for widows, to restore balance and in some cases, for economic reasons. I have nothing against widows living their lives and if dating is part of it, fine, but it’s not for me.

So I am an old weird broad, and accept that I’m alone. I did consider what my options would be and they were not good. As an old woman my dating pool would be old farts. Likely boring old dudes who want someone to take care of them. Schedule their doctor’s appointments, do their laundry, clean and cook, be a nurturer and someone who essentially puts her needs aside for his. That is not me, I don’t want to take care of some cranky sick old man but hey, fortunately there are women who do. Some will even do it for free, if marriage or living together (shacking up, as my aunt used to say) is offered. I’m honest and admit I’m not little and cute so that’s another reason I’m not a good candidate. I am selfish, I enjoy my freedom and independence. I haven’t had the luxury of being allowed to be selfish for long and admit it can be wonderful to do what I want without having to consider someone else. No way I’m giving this up, not for servitude in exchange for economic security (if I was lucky) or being part of a couple so I had something to talk and gripe about.

The main reason though is I had a good husband. He was kind to me, loved me, was a good father and a good man. He put up with my weird little self, even enjoyed some of it and tolerated the rest without much complaint. I would not find someone else as kind and decent who would cherish my weird introverted personality and put up with me, that I could put up with in turn. My husband was a jealous man, though he never had anything to worry about and if I did date I’d worry he would be upset.

So I’ve established my position and reasons why I’m alone and plan to stay this way. Now for the contradiction.

I want a companion, someone to lie in bed next to me at night, to talk with, to go places with, that I can depend on, who is interesting, has my back, laughs at my jokes, does nice things for me because it makes us both happy, that I can do nice things for as well, that I can trust and lean on whenever I need it. Not much really. Oh, and thinks I’m pretty neat. And this extraordinary person needs to be male because I’m straight. It would be a bonus if he looked and sounded like Dave Gahan.


Yet I don’t want a romantic type relationship, don’t want to date or {shudder} meet people.

The next inevitable step is to get a cat. Already have one and neither of us wants another cat.

Thanks fanpop.com for the great picture and youtube user Eddu Sounds for the video

Post race

Last Sunday morning I was downtown, in the dark and cold with 19,000 other people. I signed up for the Memorial Marathon, the 5K weenie race. I want to say it was because I believe in supporting the museum and as a remembrance to those who died April 19,1995. I admit it was more about a tech shirt and keeping up a pattern of doing this race every year. The other stuff yeah, the main reasons why there are nearly 20,000 people out there every year and why they keep coming back.

I went downtown Friday after work and picked up my packet. I decided last minute to go ahead and do this thing so my name wasn’t in the self check-in computers. I got my packet from a kindly volunteer, an older woman who assured me I was okay to go. She handed me a clear plastic bag with my bib in it and I mentioned I was just doing the 5K not the half or full marathon, the real races. She replied that every person, no matter which race they were doing, GOT THE PLASTIC BAG. The same bag. This is a big deal, because 2 years ago when I went to pick up my 5K packet I was told that only the half and full marathon people were deemed worthy of a bag. 5K people were not. I had a little feeling of shame that grew and multiplied when I learned this. I did not run or walk much that year, I was slow, old and knew I was good to do the 5K but not to ask more of my body. I had done the half, that was in 2012 but that nearly wiped me out because I ran more than I should have but still, I knew my lumpy little body was capable of doing more.

I had a good excuse for not running or walking. The previous June my husband passed away and most of the usual things I did I stopped doing. Although I enjoyed getting outside and solitude most of the time this year was not the same. It felt like a burden and the endorphins just weren’t kicking in. But I still managed to do the freaking 5K, in part because I knew he would have expected me to do it. So I did, I took my sad little loser 5K shirt and did the race in 2015.

I didn’t do the race in 2016. I couldn’t afford the $60 entry fee and somehow it didn’t feel like something I wanted to do. I was tired and didn’t want to hear about remembering the dead and being positive, about being better or stronger for the experience.  It seemed personal and intrusive in a way the previous year hadn’t. So I slept in and went to Mass instead.

This year I thought about it and tried to decide if I would or not do the race. My mind said to train for the half again, the sticker on my car needed a replacement. My body said forget that, do the 5K, it’s enough and besides you got other stuff to think about. The other stuff being my son’s wedding in Vietnam. My body won this round, as it usually does and I was not ready for the half. So I debated the merits of doing the race and the merits of sitting it out. My pride won out, as it often does, and I signed up online. i told myself to prepare to pick up my loser shirt and bring a bag.

So when this woman handed me the bag I felt grateful and humbled. Grateful that I had a bag to swing around like the big kids doing the real races. Humbled because it’s just a 3 mile race but it is important enough to provide every person with their own gear bag. I stammered something about picking up my packet 2 years before and how I was, wow, surprised and thank you.

The next step was getting my shirt. There was an expo, booths selling running shoes, clothes, protein gels, display racks for your medals, any and every thing that could be imagined for sale. I walked about five minutes before I got distracted and nearly forgot where I was going. But I found my way out of the maze and found several people in line for their shirts and took my place in line. When I got closer I saw only blue shirts. I told the man behind the counter I was just doing the 5K, that I didn’t get a half or full race shirt. He just asked what size I wanted. All the shirts were for the race: 5K, half, relay or full. I was stunned again. I babbled that last year there were different colors for the 5k, half and full. All blue and I told him I’d take a large. There were finisher shirts after the race, for the half and full but we were all in the same shirt starting out. Different bibs but the same shirt.

The race was not bad, almost anti-climactic for me. The real effort was getting up at 4am and driving in rush hour traffic trying to find a parking place in a downtown perpetually under construction.  I finished, not my best time, but I felt good after. Getting free food and finding a short line at the port-a-potties helped too.




That’s a soccer ball on the right, it floated around before the 5K started.