Flashing lights once meant a long night. Dancing, drinking, and maybe waking up somewhere other than your own bedroom.
Flashing lights accompanied by the wail of sirens now means there’s an ambulance in the parking lot. The dance may be that person’s last. Drinking may mean through a straw, or intravenously, and it is certain the person will be waking up somewhere other than their own bedroom, but romance won’t be part of the evening.
The immaculate hallways of the building I live in smell like other tenant’s dinners, and the wafting aromas of familiarity. Floor after floor, and hundreds of apartments deeply embedded with the scent of life that hasn’t changed much for years, maybe decades. I am among the handful of people under the age of sixty that live in these small apartments.
Every time I come home my memory reverberates with the same kinds of smells that saturated the hallways of the apartment building my grandmother lived in. On the day she moved in her plastic covered furniture was strategically placed, and for more than two decades it remained exactly as it was on the first day she lived there. Not a single thing ever changed.
The men and women that live in my building know they’re old. But they act much the same as they did when their lives were busied by the whirlwind of raising families and living with a spouse. There are the very social groups that linger in the lobby to gossip and exchange information, and once burly, but tender-hearted men whose physiques have been deflated by time that still bellow orders. My lighthearted neighbors, although unknown to me by name always ask me how I am. The lonely ones invite me stop by anytime for coffee, and remind me that if I ever need anything their doors are always open. There are fashionistas whose clothes are decades old and frail neighbors that need help and care from others.
I stay mostly to myself, but am a witness to the inevitable. I live alone, and am somehow all these people. Wondering sometimes if I will become the woman whose furniture will stay exactly where it is forever. I’ve worn some of my clothes for decades and question, when do clothes stop being classic, and start looking old and dated. My size hasn’t changed for years, allowing me to wear clothes I bought in my twenties, but that doesn’t stop me from asking myself if I am too old to wear something.
Collecting social security can begin as early as age sixty-two. Peter Frampton is sixty-two. But when I hear “Baby, I Love Your Way” it’s 1976, and I’m twenty again, finding it almost impossible to believe that Mr. Frampton has grown children and is bald.
Full retirement benefits kick in at age sixty-six. Mick Jagger could have started three years ago. How can that be? And if one chose to postpone retirement and wait to take late retirement, benefits would begin at age seventy. Bob Dylan would have been collecting his check for one year now.
Who ever thought of age when we weren’t aging? At age fourteen I looked nineteen, at age thirty I looked like I was in my early twenties, and now most people don’t think that I’m in my mid-fifties. Not looking my age has always been beneficial to me. Whether I looked younger or older I know what’s coming. Aging happens one day at a time, to everyone.
A relationship that endures over time must make the aging process must seem gradual. I wouldn’t have noticed my husband getting older, nor he me because we would have been doing it together. But now I can’t disguise the physical things that are changing. I’m hopeful that my physical appearance will become the thing that least makes someone attracted to me.
The men I’ve dated have mostly been older than me, but now dating someone older could mean old. I’m not bothered by this; just surprised that time has passed so quickly. There is a couple in my building that still goes by the moniker “the newlyweds.” They have been married for a few years. She was eighty, he was eighty-four. Too old? There is never a too old.
With admitted judgment, and some sadness I noticed that the title of Madonna’s new CD still refers to her as a girl. It doesn’t seem as if the material girl has embraced becoming a woman. The transition is something to be honored. I want to be a woman who ages gracefully. Someone who eases into feeling comfortable with their mistakes and missteps, someone who’s proud of their accomplishments. A woman who smiles on the inside knowing she has done her best to make her life, and the life of those she loves the best it could have been.
And so while I continue to prefer to date older men I would still say no thank you to the octogenarian who forgot to put in his teeth before leaving his apartment. He invited me to dinner, and asked if I would like to go dancing afterward. I think he knew I would say no, but that didn’t stop him from asking me, telling me that he still had moves. He said I should go because despite the difference in our ages he was really very kind. That kind of man is ageless.
The parking lot was deserted when I came home one night at about ten o’clock. I was taking some things out of my car and heard the sound of boys laughing. Kids don’t live in my complex so I wondered where the sounds were coming from. I turned the corner and saw six or seven young guys sitting by the vending machines. Their bikes had been thrown to the ground all around them. They were laughing, drinking soda, and eating candy. It was Spring break. We started talking. It seemed kind of late for them to be out by themselves, and I asked them how old they were.
Some were twelve, one or two were eleven and one boy was nine. One of the boys asked me why I lived in the building. Saying “I thought you had to be old to live here.” I wasn’t quite sure how to answer him. And then he said “excuse me I got to take this, it’s my girl on the phone.” His girl… he’s twelve. He was very tall, very handsome, and could have easily been mistaken for someone much older. When his call finished he had a big smile on his face. He said “yeah that was my girl. I like older women, she’s sixteen.” Sixteen, older woman… beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Old Habits Die Hard – Mick Jagger http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=W8fUHD0_aAA
The work of Josafat Miranda http://www.flickr.com/photos/josafat-miranda/
The work of Bad Panda http://www.vinceherrera.com
The work of Ernesto Kunde http://www.kundeart.com
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My dad called me and asked if I would like to post something he wrote on Raw. We had no idea we were each writing about similar feelings. Below is his piece.
FROM THE DESK OF CARL SHECHTER
From 60 to 70, I played golf with “Club 20”. We were 20 guys who played together and rotated through 5 foursomes. Everybody got a chance to play with everyone else. In those days I hit about 220 yards off the tee.
Then from 70 to 80, I played with “Club 12”. Most of the time, we had 12 guys available. Sometime during that decade, one of our guys said, “I’m moving down from the green tees to the black”. We called him a wimp, but within the year, we were all playing from the black. In that decade I drove about 200 yards off the tee.
Then from 80 until today (halfway between 80 and 90), I play with Club 4. Some days Club 3, because one of us has a bad back, bad knee, bad shoulder or a doctor’s appointment. The same guy who said he was moving from the green tees to the black tees announced that he was now moving from the black tees to the silver. He expected, and got, the same derision as before, but within 6 months, we were all playing from the silver and enjoying it. Now, when I hit a “long” drive, it’s about 170 yards.
It’s more than a game. We were (and still are) competitive. From Club 20 to Club 4 we always played to win; but there are no winners. Whatever we “win” goes on the table for lunch.
That’s part of our game. Playing together for more than 20 years and having lunch afterward is one of the pleasures of playing. Being with my friends, talking about everything; children, grandchildren, politics, sports, doctors and anything that’s current and interesting is why golf is such a wonderful game.
My ability as a golfer has gradually diminished, but my love for the game and for my friends has never waned.
I look forward to the next decade and we’ll probably move to the gold tees. I’m good with that, as long as my friends are there to with me on the first tee.