A big one. 65.
Over the last few weeks, I have been preoccupied with the significance of 65.
Two thirds of my life is behind me. Maybe more. Do I have 30 years left? What if it is only 10?
I’ve wasted a lot of time in 65 years.
John Lennon said,
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
But have I enjoyed it? It’s gone now… all those hours waiting for boys to call or vegging in front of TV or playing online games or shopping for shit that I hardly ever wear. I can’t get those hours back.
But I want to make the most of whatever time I have left – and to enjoy that time. Maybe that still means television and shopping. But maybe not.
I will soon (not quite yet) be an old woman.
I’ve been asking myself:
What kind of old woman do I want to be?
I’ve haven’t decided, but I know a few things.
For one thing, I always thought it would be a relief to be old, and no longer concerned about my appearance. Not true. I care.
I want to always care. How I look on the outside impacts how I feel about myself. This has always been true, and in the past, it was often in a negative way. I never even felt pretty until I turned sixty. But surprisingly I found I liked my sixty-year-old looks. And at 65, I feel quite beautiful. That’s such a lovely feeling. I’m keeping it. I don’t want to look like an old woman trying desperately to be young. But I will be a beautiful old woman, with good hair and makeup and carefully chosen clothes.
I want to be a smart old woman. I’ll stay interested in politics and the environment and literature and the arts. My father suffered from mild dementia late in life, and I recognize that could happen to me too. If it does, I hope people will be as kind to me as they were to my dad. Maybe I will at least be lucky enough to stay smart in something. My father could still follow the football game. If I can still read a book, I will be happy enough.
Some people tell me they look forward to the freedom to be outspoken. But I come from a long line of non-boat rockers. (Or is it boat non-rockers?) Either way, I’m not sure I would be happy as a crotchety old lady. I like being a nice person. I don’t even have a resting bitch-face.
But I do think I will let go of caring so much what other people think of me.
I have long been distressed when I find someone doesn’t like me. Even to be disagreed with is tragic to me. But I am well on my way to getting past it. Right now I am working with someone who very obviously dislikes me. And you know what? It doesn’t matter that much. I don’t have to win her over.
I do want, however, to ask for what I want. As a boat non-rocker, I have always had a difficult time expressing my desires. I always do what everyone else wants to do. I’ve acquiesced so long it’s hard to even know what I want. I remember back in 1976 – forty years ago. I was 25 and Dorothy Hamill had charmed the country at the Winter Olympics. I very badly coveted her hairdo.
I went to the salon, and the hairdresser said,
“How about if I give you a Dorothy Hamill haircut?”
And I said,
“I don’t know. I’m not sure I’d look good in that style,”
and he cut my hair differently.
Differently and Badly. What the hell was wrong with me? This guy was offering me exactly what I wanted, and I turned it down? That stupid little incident haunts me. And I have not changed much. I can’t tell my friends what restaurant I want to go to. I can’t tell my boss that I deserve a raise. I can’t tell my husband what I want for my birthday.
I want to hug and kiss everyone more. I’m a very restrained person. I love my family and friends, but it is difficult for me to be openly demonstrative. But these last few months I’ve changed my mind. It’s my puppy. I love to hug him. He loves me to hug him. Shit, if a dog feels that way, imagine human beings. We all need affection. I’m giving it.
I was at a family party this weekend, and I went around the house and hugged and kissed everyone there. I kissed my sisters. Do you know how long it has been since I kissed my sisters?
I am going to kiss them all the time.
I’ve been writing this blog for 4 1/2 years. If it’s a waste of time, it’s the best waste of time ever. Does it take me away from working more on my second novel? Yes. Writing a novel is so solitary. And I am a solitary person by nature. So I love that. But my blog is social. I write and people respond. It’s like getting hugs back. I need that too.
And about my blog: every year on my birthday, I post a new photo. Unretouched. (Although I’m tempted.) But I want to show people – especially younger people – that being old is not so bad.
In fact it’s pretty good.
Me – 65 (February 9, 2016)
Nancy Roman is a sixty-something English major who ended up (by the desire not to starve) with an MBA. While maintaining a long and successful career in Finance, she returned to writing a few years ago. Her essay “My Perfect Mess” was included in Marlo Thomas’ collection, “The Right Words At The Right Time, Volume II.”
Roman recently published her debut novel, “Just What I Always Wanted,” available on Amazon. In her popular blog, “Not Quite Old”, she writes lighthearted memories of childhood, the silly side of marriage, and her admittedly hopeless attempts to stay as young as possible.