Hello to all! Hope this post finds everybody well. It’s been a while since my last post and I’ve had a lot of life in between. To convey this in a way that I hope will hold your interest, I’ve decided to borrow from a popular column in Vanity Fair, where they feature photos of celebrities and ask them to act out their responses to a particular situation or emotion (for example, “you’ve just eaten something that’s spoiled” or “you’re really mad at the driver who just cut you out”, etc.). I have always been intrigued by that particular section. Instead of showing you a photo of my face, however, I’m going to share my most innermost thoughts about those scenarios that made an impact on me most recently. Enjoy!
A stranger insults you on the street…
A few weeks ago, I was in New York visiting some girlfriends for the weekend. As I walked the some three or four miles from Midtown to the hotel in Soho where I was staying (after lunch with a client, in heels, with a roller bag in tow and the blisters to show for it, thank you very much), some young guy (think early 20s) walking beside me looked at me and then looked again and said, “Hey, you have beautiful eyes.”
He was tall and swarthy with a thick accent and made no secret of his ogling a variety of women within eyesight. But it seemed he only called out to me (at least in that moment, and maybe because I gave off a vibe that I really needed to hear it). And while I found that creepy, I also felt grateful for the attention—in a way that one might feel when they’re crawling up the ass of 50. It felt good to know that I wasn’t invisible (yet) in the sea of youthful beauties around me, sipping lattes from green and white cups, walking swiftly in their short skirts from their newly minted jobs to their barely affordable studio apartments, thinking they’ll never be anything but young.
In response to his comment, I looked up only momentarily to meet his gaze and said, “Thanks.” Then, back down my eyes went as I picked up my pace. To which he said, “What, you’re not going to talk to me?” To which I said, “Sorry, I’ve got to meet somebody.” Creeeee-peee. To which he said this:
“That’s okay. You’re too old for me anyway. You could be old enough to be my mother.”
It was as if someone hit me in the chest with a long bag of rice. I could feel the breath form a knot in my chest and then leave my body in short uncomfortable bursts. Did he really say that? Not only touch a nerve, but rub it with sandpaper, throw it on the ground, stomp on it, and then feed it to the pigeons in the park?
When I recounted the story later that night to my almost-50-too friends, my long-time pal Jill (who enjoys aging, doesn’t mind the physical after effects, and, to the contrary, loves the story the fine lines on her face have to tell) said: “Well? You could be old enough to be his mother, Jill. So WHAT?”
But still. I don’t want to look old enough to be anybody’s mother (unless they’re still wearing baby diapers and sucking on a pacifier). Now that I’m over the horror of it all (sort of, okay, not really)—which took some time since I’m a person who makes no secret of clinging to her youth, of wanting people to be utterly shocked when I tell them how old I am, of refusing to believe I shouldn’t be shopping at stores like Forever 21 because a cardigan is for all ages (right?)—I’m pissed.
You just lost your best friend…
Well, I guess it’s official: No more bestie for Jill. And I’m moving into the next stage of grief: Goodbye Denial. I won’t miss you Anger. I’ve been waiting for you, Sadness. (Say, what time do you expect your friend Acceptance? I’ll set an extra place in my frontal cortex…Bargaining is welcome, but by now, I really don’t see the point…)
So what happened, you ask? Beats me. I left my formerly best friend Lorrie’s house last September (yes, 2011) after a lovely evening with her and her family to celebrate Yom Kippur (where we vowed to make it an annual ritual) and had no idea that I would never see or speak to her again.
We have been friends for 40 years. That’s 160 seasons OR 14,600 days respectively (if you’re counting). We have shared four decades of hopes, dreams, tears, laughter, husbands, boyfriends, children, jobs, holidays, tea parties (at college, with our stuffed bears, in the middle of the night, during finals mostly) and most importantly, feelings. And yet, she has completely cut me out of her life and I have no idea why.
Sad really. Life is so short. People, if you’re mad at somebody for something—or even a little bugged—just tell them. Give them a chance to respond.
You just realized you can’t do that anymore…
And you thought I was talking about a split, climbing the ropes, or wearing hot blue spandex. Silly, I’m not. I’m talking about the fact that my niece is living my life – or should I say, the life I once lived when I was not almost 50. She is young, a new college grad readying to go into the world as a communications professional, living in a one-bedroom apartment in the city. I know it’s her life, but it was once mine as well. So many years ago, when I thought, like the pretty girls walking the streets of Manhattan, I’d always have the world at my feet …
You just realized you’re not the only one on earth with this problem…
I was trying on cardigan and boyfriend jeans and long-sleeved tee’s at Talbot’s this past weekend (yes, I’m shopping at Talbot’s now – what’s happening to me?), when a woman in the dressing room next to me asked if a shirt she was trying on looked “okay” on her? Turns out she had just lost 11 pounds. On Weight Watchers. And “at age 52, that’s no easy feat”. After all, the weight wants to cling to her like a pack of leeches. Lack of sleep is not helping, springing up at 3 a.m. every night is just cruel. And the mood swings? I can’t imagine, she said.
I really can’t.
To which I laughed. Oh really? I said.
You just found out something you thought was true really isn’t…
Turns out, I can eat mayonnaise and it doesn’t make me gain weight. (Scallops and bacon, now that’s another story…) Who knew?
You just had a really good idea and can’t wait to explore it…
A big cozy desk, in front of the long windows in the living room that nobody ever uses. After all, who needs an old piano that’s always out of tune? A sofa that nobody sits on (except the hairy dog, sorry Winnie)? An rattan chair from Pottery Barn’s 2000 collection that, frankly, is owed a Rolex?
I have been thinking for a while now about creating a sacred space from which to write. I’ve had those spaces all my life, in every place I’ve lived, except in this house. I just haven’t been able to pinpoint just the right spot … until now (perhaps?).
How about you? What stories would you tell in response to these prompts? What are you feeling these days? Angry, hopeful, confused? Do tell. And come see me at the Philadelphia Writers Conference on Saturday, June 9. I’ll be giving a workshop on blogging. For more info, go to http://pwcwriters.org/. Finally, if we don’t talk, have a great holiday weekend. (And call your best friend, would ya?)
Until next time!