I’ve been on the planning committee for my 50th high school class reunion and we just attended all the festivities this past weekend. It’s been 50 years since I graduated in 1967 from Leicester High School (LHS), Leicester, Massachusetts. LHS, I might add, is home to the mighty wolverines. Though I understand the ferocious nature of the wolverine, I just discovered that wolverines are NOT native to Massachusetts. Bummer! Another myth shattered!
So how, you might ask, did I ever get to be this age? I certainly ask myself this question frequently and I have no idea how it all came to be. It kind of crept up on me and now here I am … 67 years old, traipsing back and forth across the country, living on a sailboat in Chesapeake, Virginia, contemplating a major life change and attending a high school reunion with a bunch of other sexagenarians. (Sexagenarian? Very cool word for 60-year olds, don’t you think?) I used to think 67 was old, but as I inch closer and closer to 70, I realize it’s not old at all. 90 is old … 70 is the new 50 and 50 is pretty young … really! (and probably if I reach 90, I’ll think it’s the new 70 … just sayin’… age is all relative.)
So the younger folks out there who are reading this are thinking … she’s crazy … 67 really is pretty old. You’re wrong. No, the town of Leicester established in 1722 is old. I might look old-ish. My bones and back might sometimes ache in the morning (and the evening), but I certainly don’t feel or consider myself old. 67 is just a number. I feel like I’ve always felt. I remember asking my Nana one time how she felt about getting old. We were very close and I could ask dumb questions like that without repercussion. Her answer? “I don’t feel old” she said, “but when I look in the mirror in the morning, it’s always a surprise … who the hell is that old lady staring back at me?”
Age kind of creeps up on you while you’re busy doing other things. On Nine of Cups, I find that I seldom spend time looking in a mirror. The lighting usually isn’t good; there’s rarely a need for make-up; and when you’re on a passage, you don’t really care anyhow. I’m always amazed when we get to shore after a passage and I take a gander at myself in a ladies’ room mirror. Oh, my … could that really be me with all the wrinkles, the gray roots and the blotchy skin? Yowza … what an eye opener. I’d remember my Nana’s words and wonder who the hell the lady staring back at me could possible be. Ouch!
I took pictures at a family party a couple of years ago and when reviewing them later, David asked quite seriously “who’s that old guy there?” “Why, honey, that’s you!” We sometimes don’t quite believe what we actually look like to others. I’m sure our kids look at us after long absences and think “Wow … our parents are really getting on in years.” You don’t notice it when you see someone everyday. It’s most noticeable when you haven’t seen them in a long time … like at a 50th high school class reunion. I hadn’t been to a reunion since 1987, so it shouldn’t have been a shocker that we’re not all 30-somethings and in our prime any more. I dug out my old yearbook and studied it before attending. I recognized some folks and I was just pleased that some folks recognized me. We’ve all gained a few years, a few wrinkles … and perhaps a few pounds.
There’s no doubt in my mind that David and I have still got lots of life left in us. After all, we’ve got plans. So … here’s to aging, but not getting old. No sitting in rocking chairs, knitting mittens or whittling little wooden animals for us. There’s too much to see and do and time’s a’wastin’.
We’ll get back to the From There to Here series later this week.