I am a huge fan of yours. Who doesn’t love all of your books and screenplays? When Harry Met Sally and Heartburn are especially poignant for me. With your wit and intelligence you have hung your life out for all to see, and you do it with incredible humor and grace. I find your insights on the mark. You should get a purple heart for some of the bumps in the road that you have endured and for your amazing candor in talking about it. I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman intrigued me and had me laughing out loud and misting up at the tender moments. For instance, you gloss over your divorces lightly in the book, but I believe I felt your pain – a tribute to your writing. It is this book I am responding to. For those who don’t know, Nora Ephron’s book deals mainly with the trials and tribulations of aging.
Let me introduce myself to you, Nora. I am one of those idiots who extol some of the joys of getting older. I’m a couple of years older than you and widowed. I found the mature dating scene rather bleak and it became an impetus to writing about it. My opinions are spelled out seriously/humorously/fictionally on the blog I write for Wild River Review. I write about the problems between men and women and how they can be improved. Much of it applies to all ages.
I admit there are many down sides to getting older, and many unpleasant aspects in the process., but, in my delirium, I find much that’s advantageous. As for mature sex, I have difficulty finding a considerate lover, but the occasional good one is so much fun. I am far more uninhibited now. Today, I can indulge in sex openly without the taboos of yesteryear where women developed “bad reputations.” That label was like wearing a scarlet letter. I was told from an early age on that that the only way to snag a good husband was to remain a virgin until marriage. That caused a lot of sexual repression and fear in me. I had to work hard at exorcising that kind of built-in neurosis over they years.
Now, having become a woman of a certain age, I don’t give a damn what they call me. They can say I’m a slut. At this stage, that’s a compliment. Sadly, I haven’t had as many sexual encounters as I’d have liked because there is a dearth of men who have emotional appeal. I do need that before jumping into bed. The truth is, I’m still waiting for a true soulmate lover. That desire has not diminished with age. I heartily believe in romance and, hopefully, one day it will happen.
Should I be careful about what I wish for? Perhaps, but I don’t worry about bad decisions either. Making a mistake in choosing a romantic interest is no longer of much consequence. I’m not concerned about a future with marriage and a picket fence. I’m into the now, this minute. If it’s not right, then I extricate myself and am free to move on.
For me, getting older has allowed me to find my stride. As a child and through my adult life, I kept reinventing myself to please whomever I admired or those who had some measure of control over my future. Whether I became friendly with the parents of the children my kids played with or entertained associates and the powers connected with my husband’s career, I spent a lot of years being someone else. Now, I answer only to myself (kids and grandkids excluded). I am fucking free!!
Over the years, I have divested myself of people I thought to be bleeding me emotionally. By making these changes, my head and time are cleared to do the things I love; visiting grandkids, reading, seeing friends, going to the theater, entertaining myself, traveling, playing tennis, writing and more writing. Constant complainers, narcissists and mean gossips stay away from my door.
I now feel empowered to be myself and to confront problematic issues instead of internalizing them which I did for many years for fear of making people angry at me. At this juncture in my life, I don’t care who likes me or not. My friends will remain my friends and the others are meant to go by the wayside.
I’m much more cognizant of how precious time is and try hard to utilize it better then I did at a younger age. I pissed away a lot of time over they years, time that I wish I could have back. So, now each minute of work/play is harvested with greater care, like full-bodied grapes that have the potential to make excellent wine.
Nora, I think you are glamorous and beautiful (No, I’m not going to ask you out on a date). As for myself, I now take much better care, apply more cosmetics, and I think I look better than I once did. Back then I ran around raising children, went back to school, was in charge of the household, helped my husband’s career on a grand scale and dealt with people, some of whom drained me. I think I was more haggard and had less time to pamper myself.
I go to the beauty parlor more often, but don’t spend a lot of money on face creams and such. For years, I’ve used mineral oil on my face. It costs around a couple of bucks a bottle and lasts forever because you can’t slather it on. I horrify the woman who occasionally gives me a facial. She thinks it will clog my pores. I’ve been using it for twenty years and no zits. My big extravagance is Retin-A which costs more but is still relatively inexpensive – well under a hundred bucks a tube.
Also, we can whiten our coffee-stained teeth easily. My mother at forty looked more matronly and older than I do at sixty plus. And our generation lives longer with more quality of life than our parents. I walk two to three miles a day, can trek a couple of miles of the San Francisco hills, play vigorous tennis, ride a bike and work out (sometimes). It’s more than I did at an earlier age. Maybe I’ll drop dead in my sleep, but right now, I’m having a blast.
I used to think clothing unimportant, so sure people would like me for my mind. HA! What a crock. Today, I wear shorter dresses, skirts more often, lower necklines and more trendy clothing. I actually get more looks from men now then I did before (never realized how far cleavage can go). So what if it’s all a façade. Feeling good is my goal in life or else I don’t do it unless absolutely necessary. I have choices that I now make for myself.
I grew up very poor and money was always an issue. I used to worry a lot about what might happen to me in the future. Will I be comfortable financially (yes), how will my kids turn out (fabulous – daughter a lawyer and son a doctor) and will I have adorable, wonderful, smart grandkids (yes!).
That gives me a big sense of relief, and I pray hard that it will continue. In essence, the future has happened. I could commit suicide about that concept, but I’m too curious to see how the rest plays out.
As for a bikini – never wore one before and don’t worry about it now. The younger people I hang out with, mostly in the arts, don’t give a rat’s ass about age. They are mentally stimulating and invigorating. They give off a vibrating energy that I absorb and apply to my own life, and I try to do the same in return. I’m not referring to the wisdom gained by the time mature years are reached, but rather an exchange of information, humor, wit and fun (and wine, too). Screw wisdom.
We look at younger women who are in their prime and, believe it or not, they might be envying us – not that they want to be older, but rather they envy that we’re basically finished with the nightmares they’re encountering. Younger people are still struggling with relationships, bad marriages, the devastation of divorce, single parenthood, children with problems, aging parents and all kinds of dating issues. Sometimes, they wish for the time to pass more quickly to get over the humps. For younger people, being coupled is more important. They have many struggles to contend with and having a partner sometimes eases stress. My life is fulfilled. Being with a terrific man would be wonderful, but I can live quite pleasantly without the pleasure of a partner. There are other enjoyable activities that single people can reach for.
Granted, we do have a limited window of time on this earth. But, I breathe a sigh of relief every time I leave a funeral – it’s not me this time. And, yes, friends around us are getting ill and dealing with physical problems. But as long as this body and mind work, I’m going to drain the life out of what is out there just for the picking.
The sexy grandmom