Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Then and Now

I woke up one morning not too long ago, sat up in bed, and thought, Holy crap, I'm in my 60s! How did that happen?

In fact, I do (mostly) remember how I got here, at least physically. Metaphorically, I'm adrift in uncharted territory, trying to figure out what it means to be 60 in the here and now. The 60-year-old people I knew in my youth were, well, old. I don't associate myself with them in any way, shape, or form. I look at pictures of my maternal grandmother somewhere in her early 60s (she died at 66) and she's a wizened, white-haired old lady with no teeth, bent over with early osteoporosis, and wearing a floral pinafore smock. She grew up in poverty, had eight kids, and survived the great depression and World Wars One and Two, so that accounts for a lot.

My Grandma, Jane Flynn, in her early 60s
 I've been racking my brain to remember what my own mother was like at 60. But I only remember her on a continuum: a woman who didn't work outside the home and was noted for her cooking, baking, and sewing skills. Photos of her 60-year-old representation of that show her in polyester pants suits and with tightly permed hair.

On the other hand, I do yoga, listen to Green Day and The Killers—okay, in between The Beatles and Bob Dylan—on my MP3 player, have a Facebook page, and dress primarily in jeans. Perhaps I'm not typical, but I have enough friends who are like me to suggest that I'm not un-typical either. Your experience of being 60 might be different from mine in the details, but I'll bet we have more in common with one another than we do with any other cohort. But perhaps I'm just thinking too much about age?

This age-related navel-gazing is not a new phenomenon for me. In the 1980s I worked as a staff writer on a magazine called Moxie for women over 40 (way ahead of its time, as it happens, and it lasted only a few years). I'd just turned 40 myself when I got the job and so wrote from personal experience. Recently, I've revisited some of those same themes and I'm amazed how my perspective has changed in the last 20 years. Looking back, 40 seems as young to me now as 20 does. At 40, life still seemed full of angst and I was constantly striving to improve my lot; become a better human; and trying to manipulate people and situations in ways that I thought would make me happy. At 60, I'm way less stressed and feel more comfortable in my own skin (perhaps because it's looser!) and in the world in general. If you had ever told me that I would be happier at 60 than at 40 or even 20, I would never have believed it.

Nevertheless, or perhaps because of that, I've been feeling a restiveness and an imperative to make a change; to shake things up. (There are reasons for this that I'll cover as we journey along together.) So I sold off most of my stuff, packed what was left and my little dog Henry into my 13-year-old Toyota, and drove to Mexico.

This blog is about my new and open-ended adventure in San Miguel de Allende. It's part travelogue; part memoire (a traveloire?) I'm writing it for my own gratification and to have a record in words and pictures of this particular chapter in life; and so my family and friends can follow along. But everyone is welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to following your inspiring journey. Thank you for sharing!