Tag Archives: aging

You Can Still Be My Icon

Good morning, world! I hope everyone is having a good start to their respective week. I’m finally able to breathe fairly well again after battling a lingering cold/flu thing, so things must be looking up!

My weekend was rainy and wet, although I did get out of the house on Saturday night to go see a concert. This was our first “date night” in months, and we went to Rava Winery to see a Beatles tribute band called Hard Days Night.

First of all, I’m from So Cal, and I’m used to lights, and plenty of them. Cars, buildings, street lights, traffic lights….light pollution!! One of the things that I’m having a tougher time getting used to here out in the country is that there are relatively few of those lights! It’s harder to see at night, and so while we were driving in what felt like the middle of nowhere, through rain, to get to this winery – I wondered if we’d A. get there in one piece and B. make it back home at the end of the night. (spoiler: we were fine!)

Now is the time to come out

When we got to the winery, it was sprinkling, but my fears about being the only people showing up to the gig were unfounded. There were plenty of people there. I noticed a few things about the crowd. To begin with, Walt and I were on the younger side compared to many. I don’t know if that surprised me that much, but it was worth noting. I went dressed pretty casually (as is the usual with me), but a LOT of people dressed up in their 60s-era finest attire: from go-go boots for the women, to bright floral shirts for the guys. The other thing I noticed was that everyone, and I mean everyone, seemed to know one another. I spent the hour or so before the concert just watching everyone greet one another.

Again, being from Orange County (and there is a point to this so stick with me here), I don’t know very many people here yet. When we go to most concerts down south, it is rare that I know anyone unless I run into a neighbor, which almost never happened even when I’d be at a local grocery store!

Come out of the shadows

As the band took the stage, I noticed a sizable dance floor and commented to my husband that we were not going to be out there for all to see. He agreed, as he was nursing a sore back anyway. I figured no one would use it. I was dead wrong.

Within minutes, the floor was packed, and this crowd of primarily 50-60 somethings were out on the floor, dancing and reveling the night away. Granted, a lot of the women were the ones either dragging their men out on to the floor, or they were dancing with groups of friends while the men snuck more glasses of wine back at the tables with their friends, but it was fun to watch! It reminded me of something so very familiar….

Invariably, when I see family or friends outside of my Duran Duran “family”, the questions I get range from: “Aren’t you getting a little old for concerts?” to “When are you too old to be a fan?” I have to tell you, no matter how well I prepare myself for the questions, I always feel uncomfortable by them. What is the right answer? What can I say that will stop the conversation in its tracks so we can talk about something else? Why do I always feel like I’m wrong for having fun?? No matter what I say each time, I end up feeling icky.

Out on the edge

Well, Saturday night reminded me that age shouldn’t be a factor at all. The table directly in front of us had a group of probably 10 couples, and they were easily in their mid to late 60s. They were locals, and judging from the very loud conversation amongst the men, they were ranch and small orchard/winery owners. I heard one of them comment that they were “checking out the competition” that night as they drank their bottle of Cabernet. I’ve never seen people party it up harder in the first hour they were at a show than this group! They downed bottles of wine faster than I drink vodka tonics. It was a sight to behold. The dancing and laughing reminded me very much of some of the Duran shows I’ve attended.

The way this concert was set up, the band took a short break after about a 45-minute set for a costume change. At that point, a lot of people made their way back out into the rain. I was a little surprised to see that about half of the table in front of us left at that point, citing that they had early mornings ahead of them. Even so, I’d say about 2/3 of the audience stayed behind, and finished out the evening. The dancing didn’t slow down, nor did the imbibing.

My face in the mirror

As the show ended, and we made our way out into the now-pounding rain (I need a better raincoat, apparently!), I thought about aging. I can see the years whenever I look into a mirror. It’s getting more difficult to ignore the lines on my face, or the way my body aches after a full day of weeding or raking. Age is just a number, though. It shouldn’t stop anyone from wanting to have a night out with friends, or enjoying good music, or even cheering on a fantastic band.

My age is definitely not going to stop me from having a great time in a few weeks!

-R

I Won’t Go Away Quietly and Die. Will You?

How many of you can remember your parents going to concerts in their mid-40’s or later?

Aside from one Neil Diamond concert that I can remember from about six or seven years before my dad passed, and perhaps a Beach Boys mini concert that took place after a USC football game, I can’t really remember my parents going to concerts. I know that my mom and dad always struggled with money, and it was rare that they ever actually went out without my sister and I in tow. Even that Beach Boys concert was a family affair, because we’d all gone to the game. I just don’t remember live shows, or evenings out being a part of my parent’s life.

Music was a part of our household in that occasionally my parents would buy records, and they liked playing music after dinner, but it was typically older, rather than newer. For my parents, Elvis was the common denominator. My dad liked “Country Western” and my mom seemed to gravitate more towards pop of all kinds, and somehow, they agreed on Elvis. Neither were really into The Beatles, oddly enough – my mom told me it was because they seemed to come along later as opposed to during those momentous high school years. (My dad graduated from high school in 1958 and my mom in 1962) I can remember hearing anything and everything from Charlie Pride to Elton John at one point or another.

My dad never took trips with “the guys”, and my mom absolutely never set foot out the door with intentions of a girls weekend anywhere. My mom was never the type of woman to get together with friends. I can’t ever remember, for instance, there being any “friends” of my mom in our house. I never came home from school to see my mom chatting with anyone, and the only people that ever seemed to call our house were family.  My mom and dad did every single thing they could together, as a couple. My mom simply preferred to be with my dad.

For that matter, my mom was never a shopper. We went to the mall on those “once-a-year school clothes or Christmas shopping” trips together as a family, and there were rarely mother/daughter outings.  I can honestly count going out with her alone for a day out shopping on one hand, and one of those times was for my wedding dress. I attribute most of that to a lack of discretionary income, but also because my mom wasn’t that type of person. She still isn’t a window shopper, she doesn’t like going out to the mall unless it’s for a reason. She has never been much of a browser, because in her mind, if you go to a store, it’s got to be because you need something. Some of that, she has passed on to me, although I fight it, which I will get to in a minute.

I read an article yesterday about loving ourselves even as we age. Once we reach the age of about 35 or even 40, both of which are well-behind in my rear view mirror now, the world stops caring about us. Advertisers ignore us, because I’m pretty sure that the rest of the world has decided that once you’re 35, you should go somewhere, lay down, and await death.

Except we haven’t. And I won’t go quietly.

I think about my mom. She’s 74 now. Unfortunately, she lost my dad ten years ago, and her friend and partner about two years ago.  My mom and I have had numerous conversations about my “Duran Duran exploits” over the years, which makes it all sound slightly lascivious, and perhaps to my mom, they were. I think the expectations of women were very different for her than they might have been for my generation. I think she was shocked when I first told her I was flying across the country to go to a convention. That wasn’t even a concert – I was just going to go meet people I’d “met” online!  There have been many times when I know she felt that I had my priorities crossed, even though I know how much happier I am as a person now than I was, isolated and caring for two very young children. The cross-generational differences are glaringly obvious at times.

Historically, perhaps women did get married, have children and stop doing anything else outside of the family.  If other women were anything like my mom or my grandmother, maybe life did slow down quite a bit after 35 or even 40. But to just pretend we don’t exist? Um, tell that to the thousands (yes, thousands) of women my age or even older at Duran Duran shows!  Not only have they not laid down to await their impending death – they are living. Vibrantly. Beautifully. Strongly. They’ve got life by the tail and are swinging it around, ready to throw it whenever, and however, they choose. I’m happy to be in that group, too.

I fight the urge to just stay at home. I can be a bit of a hermit. I’m far better at being an introvert than I am an extrovert. The effort it takes me to be chatty and friendly at gatherings is pretty embarrassing. I will literally collapse after get togethers sometimes. It is easier for me to sink back into the comfort of spending my entire life just hanging out with my husband (and we’re like oil and water a lot of the time!) than it is for me to find good friends to do lunch. I try to remember to get out of the house and to go do things with my daughters (or even my son) from time to time. It isn’t always easy, but I am not just going to lay down and wait for death to sweep over me like a cold blanket. I can do that later.

I’m still learning how to love myself at 47, or even 50. It’s not easy. I look in the mirror or down at myself and see the bad things first. The grey hair, the bags under my eyes, the middle-aged weight gain, and the way my legs seem to grow lizard scales if I don’t moisturize daily are all things my eyes focus on first. I have to talk myself into the idea of going to Duran shows, the struggle of feeling confident amongst the rest of you is real. All of those things can really get me down if I let them. But then I think about the things I’ve done, and what I still want to do. I’m not old yet. I still feel young. I’m not ready to retire. I won’t go away quietly.

-R