I turned 55 in September, the day before summer said goodbye and the weatherman warned of flash floods. To me, 55 begins the countdown of the clock. It comes with new, arthritic-sounding words like retirement, senior discount, Medicare. New junk mail starts appearing in my email box, for example, for senior living. I find it shockingly dull next to my regular junk mail, like Russian brides, who seem full of hope and adventure. Senior living sounds limited and cautious.
I don’t feel limited and cautious, although I mostly eat yogurt now instead of ice cream and I’m afraid of falling in winter. Certain casual events, like if the clerk at Home Depot calls me “Miss,” are encouraging. Today, a young restaurant host called me “My Lady,” and I rode off into an Arthurian kingdom where riders smite each other and there is no conventional time or vocabulary.
In general, time units blur into indeterminate segments. Did something happen a few years or a few decades ago? Or in a book? Celebrities who defined the music and movies of my 20s are dying and a little part of me dies with each of them, until I dread the day that no young people will share any of my references. Over the summer, I accidentally colored my hair bright orange. After the shock subsided, I put on a gold hoop earring and sang, “Nothing’s gonna touch you in these golden years, go-o-old...” (Does anyone here remember David Bowie?) Nostalgia is like the Greek sirens. Proceed cautiously or you’ll become shipwrecked on a rocky coast. Georgia O’Keefe got it right: “In our one life, we live many lives.” As you age, never stop reinventing yourself.
- Diane Martini Richard (B.A. ’85) Golden Valley