Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Ramble

If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old. 

James A. Garfield 

Last Thursday a book was recommended on a blog that I follow,  Sage's Play , a fantastic read for those of us 'getting up in years'.  The  title of the book immediately caught my attention, perhaps because I live in Brooklyn. Indeed, the book was on Kindle so I downloaded a sample chapter and ended up purchasing it even before I got through the sample.  The book,  "Fierce with Age: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn" by Carol Osborn,  is an autobiography which focuses on a year of the author's life as she struggled to come to terms with the aging process and all of the negative stereotypes attributed to it.  One story the author told immediately hit home for me.

There is a knock at her door, and she opens it to find a young woman asking if this was where the party was. It seems that the woman was there to attend a party, but had knocked on the wrong door. At this point that the author hears the sound of a party emanating from her neighbor's apartment.  She then goes on to explain how she and her neighbor, both dog owners, had been friendly and how she had even taken care of her neighbor's dog when she was not home. When the neighbor steps out of the apartment and sees the author standing there, she is clearly embarrassed. The author continued to watch as other, younger, neighbors continued to arrive. 

 "I saw all this.  We witnessed all this together.  And what I saw in her eyes that I'd never seen before was that she was embarrassed that she had not invited me to her party, and we both knew why.  I am old.

Suddenly, this grown up woman who imagines that she can gracefully accept the ups and downs, just happy to be alive, was knocked back into the self-knowledge that she could not even gracefully accept that she had not been invited to the party next door" (Excerpt from "Fierce with Age")

Something very similar had happened to me a year or so ago.  Although I'd accepted the fact that I was aging, I still felt young inside and really believed that biological age meant nothing when it came to dealing with peers and friendships. After all, I really do get along well with my peers at work.  We laugh and joke with each other, and I, always the practical joker, am always the first one to start some kind of ruckus at work--dialing a co-worker from a prank call sight, hiding a cell phone, telling a joke. As far as I was, and am, concerned there is no generation gap, but I know that is not true because I learned the hard way that there was.

I learned that although my peers, all in their 30's and 40's, genuinely like me and respect me, see it more fitting that I engage in activities with their mothers when it comes to outside socializing. It seems that one of my co-workers was throwing a party over the weekend that featured, not tupperware, but sex toys, and she invited everyone at work, but  me. I was not supposed to find out about it, but secrets like that are hard to keep.  Not that anyone deliberately tried to hurt me by telling me about it.  I overheard a conversation at lunch.  It hurt, yes, but it also opened my eyes to a truth I hadn't wanted to face.  I COULD be their mother, and who invites their mom to a party about sex toys?  They would have been uncomfortable, and let's face it, I would have been pretty darn uncomfortable as well.  I come from a different era and have nothing, absolutely nothing aside from work, in common with them. If I hadn't always had this desperate need to fit in, I believe I would have seen this truth a long time ago.

This neediness is not just a part of my growing older;  it has been with me my entire life.  I've always had that 'need' to be a 'part of'. When they say that childhood emotional wounds take a long time to fade away, they are clearly speaking the truth.  Starting in early grammar school I was teased and taunted unmercifully and treated as an outcast, like I didn't belong. When teams were drawn for baseball, I was always the last gal standing. I did everything I could to fit in, but it only seemed to make matters worse, so eventually, I gave up trying.  

So, here I am, 66 years old, the scars still there. I have my blog friends whom I love with all my heart, but I have not one 'real life' friend my own age.  That's pretty sad, isn't it? But, it's something I definitely plan to work on when I retire.  I've contacted the senior center near my home, and not only are they offering the ceramics classes I was looking for, but they are also offering the friendship and companionship of people my own age, something I have lacked for most of my life. Retirement is going to be good.

If you have the opportunity, do read this book. I could not put it down and read it in record time.  It's wonderfully written and lots of other things the author wrote about hit home. 
The aster has not wasted spring and summer because it has not blossomed.
It has been all the time preparing for what is to follow, and in autumn it is
the glory of the field, and only the frost lays it low.  So there are many
people who must live forty or fifty years, and have the crude sap of their
natural dispositions changed and sweetened before the blossoming time can
come; but their lives have not been wasted.

Henry Ward Beecher


  1. Love the title of that book! And yes, seniors centres are great for offering lots of affordable activities and for making new friends -- My Rare One did not hesitate to sign up for classes etc. when she retired and so she is busy, happy and meeting new people all the time (an extrovert, don't you know, LOL?).

  2. Each life story, is so interesting. I didn't fit-in either. But it has not driven me, to keep trying to fit in. Didn't fit in, even after marriage. I never wanted to do, the stuff, which was "Necessary," for Young Married's, etc., etc., etc.

    BUT!!! And the biggest BUT of all!!! At 21, I married a wonderful man, who always stood by me. And all your friends know Dear Mary, that your first marriage was not a happy one. It was one, which kept beating you down.

    I think you are to be commended for coming as far as you have!!! Childhood hurt and first marriage hurt... And yet, you have found a good marriage and have survived well!

    Please don't worry so much, about any difficulty you may have, with moving on into a different stage of life. Please, just dwell on all you have accomplished and have gotten, for yourself. Please.

    Yes, you have a perfect right to say what is on your mind, here. Just try to always notice, how you have come-out-on-top, so many ways.

    Yikes! I'm long-winded today!

  3. Talk about embarrassment....it can happen at any age once you are an adult.
    In my 20's and 30's and to this very day, if I was around where children were present and someone used words or actions with double meanings, I'd cringe in embarrassment.
    Probably would turn red at a Sex Toy Party too, so I'll save the host and myself by hoping that I never get an invite...unless we are all in our 70's and even then....it's IFFY. ;0) I shit you not!

  4. Having a friend one's own age or close to is just so important and I think once you join the senior center your age will be honored. Here's to making and finding true friends.

  5. Good morning friend....just wanted to check in with you. I'm off to download that book as it CERTAINLY applies to me. Aging can be a challenge as both of us know...but it DOES beat the alternative. BTW.....I DO have a sex toy!!!! LOL LOL LOL