Friday, January 17, 2014

The Fifties are Weird

It probably says something about the eclectic nature of my friends’ community that on a given morning I’m opening emails inviting me to 80’s night at the Sulky Lounge as well as reviewing the curriculum vitae for a Catholic theologian who authored our latest book group read.

Or maybe that’s just Life in the Fifties. 

“Am I weird?” I asked the spouse, regarding these disparate energies.  “Cyndi Lauper or Mother Teresa?  With whom shall I party on Friday night?”

“You contain multitudes,” he replied. 

“Yup.  Weird,” I concluded.  “Who else would stay married for 27 years to a guy who quotes Whitman?”

For the most part, I really like my fifties.  I like how the women I spend time with are not simply workplace buddies or peers raising same-age children: they are individuals I’m drawn to because of their character, regardless of age.  Some are widows, some are 20-somethings.  All of them interest, or challenge, or inspire me in different ways.  They recommend books I’ve never heard of, they pick on my backhand and make me come to net, they rope me into their community service.  They make me dinner and pour me a glass of wine when I’m flagging; they make me laugh; they surprise me.  Some of them are old friends, some are brand new.  I like that I’m still making new friends.

I like exercising because it feels great, not because I’m trying to squeeze into one-size-smaller jeans.  I like wearing clothes with great colors and textures because they make me feel beautiful … not because I’m trying to attract.  Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t surrendered to sweat pants (except on long, rainy writing days, which, frankly, are their own sort of bliss … ) but I’m definitely a Coldwater Creek gal.  The husband of 27 years shops for me there.  I can forgive the Whitman because of those great sweaters ….

I like dancing, even to throwback music from the 80’s (Talking Heads!!) and had a really fun, ridiculous time at a recent college reunion dancing en masse with classmates in a muddy field.  I like ballroom dancing with the spouse, salsa dancing on New Year’s Eve, dancing with my dog when I crank the stereo and clean the house ….

Here’s what I don’t like:  leg warmers.  You have to have a certain length of leg to pull off a leg warmer, and I never have and never will.  I thought leg warmers went the way of the 80’s, but apparently, if you wear them at the door of the Sulky Lounge on Friday nights you don’t have to pay the cover.

This is slim incentive indeed for a woman of a certain age, a.k.a. moi.  All I can say to my intrepid peers willing to brave that scene is You go, girls!  This Friday night you’ll find me in cozy pants, sipping Chardonnay, supervising the son as he packs for his return to college, and possibly reading a little Ronald Rolheiser.

This is not surrender:  it is comfortable acceptance of who I am.  In my twenties I couldn’t have said that.  I suffered from way too much FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and spent too much time chasing what I thought I was supposed to do. 

Life in the Fifties may be weird, but it’s such a relief.

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