Doing 70

October 2nd, 2013

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When I was in the mountains last week for my birthday, I spent a lot of time thinking about the direction I want to set off in during the coming year. I don’t want to do 70 on cruise control, but there’s no map to use for this part of my life so there’s a danger  of just rolling through the days ahead in an interstate stupor. Going in circles, doubling back, never getting off the main roads.  I don’t feel 70, but it’s an intense psychological milestone nonetheless. I hate to think of aging as a process of reluctantly letting go of things, of mourning things I can no longer do, of clinging to a past version of me. That just seems to lead to limiting risk, playing it safe. “Wear sensible shoes! Hold onto the railing! Don’t forget your fiber supplement!’ Unfortunately that’s usually the only story told about this time of life — one of becoming increasingly irrelevant and invisible and in constant danger of chronic constipation. One day you’re hot stuff in cowboy boots, the next you’re a crone with bunions. It’s such a pervasive theme that I start to believe it myself. I forget that I started a whole new life at 50, that this year I had a sexy little fling with a man who’s 10 years younger than I am, that I still have a restless spirit that needs some speed and an open road. All my life, though, I’ve had goals to reach for — a college degree, a good job, a bigger job, a business to build — and now I don’t have anything specific to replace them. Although I love writing for Skirt!, it’s no longer the only measure of my success or the source of my identity.  I don’t regret a marriage that was 10 years of bad roads or the struggle to raise a family alone or scrabbling to earn a living, or even chasing men I shouldn’t have caught. I certainly don’t regret creating a magazine that became my alter ego. But while I was driving myself to get “ahead”, I didn’t have time to pull off at a rest stop to ask myself if there was another path I might explore; I was too busy holding my life in the road. Recently, though, that 17-year-old Kentucky  girl who was along for the ride, the one who was too often a passenger in her own life has been causing some turmoil. She’s demanding a second chance to do something new and wild and wholly unrelated to my old shoulds or oughts. I’m not sure how I’m going to do 70, but I wish it could be a dizzy zip-line of a ride full of unexpected epiphanies in the oddest places, serendipitous meetings with oracles and shamans, special guest appearances, and surprise packages filled with fortune cookies and clues to the meaning of life. Buckle up, I’m on my way — doing 70  and watching for roadside attractions, secret passages and damn good diners to report back on to those of you who haven’t started this journey yet.

9 Responses to “Doing 70”

  1. V-Grrrl says:

    Doing 70–that’s the fast lane, the passing lane, the inter-state of being. 🙂

  2. nikki says:

    You are so right!!! Love it.

  3. DMc says:

    20 years behind you and yet really right there with you. Don’t forget about the reporting back – – – I really want to know.

  4. DMc says:

    And PS: Happy belated birthday!

  5. nikki says:

    I will be reporting in regularly! I hope I have good news for you.

  6. Amey Warder says:

    I love this. 30 years behind, that cannot be true, but you are the leader!
    Enjoy this ride, and stop for the attractions not distractions!

  7. LOVE your essay, Nikki. And your joie de vivre and will to embrace your life now. You go for it and enjoy every moment. Yeah, keep us posted. Psst…love skirt!

  8. Love your photo. I thought you had dark hair…
    OK, I have the picture now, you are like 20 years older than I am. You live far away, so we will probably never meet. After divorce and relocation, I have several friends, all women, all in their 60s whose husbands died. I listen, so they talk to me. You talk (write), and I listen (read). That is the key. That is what Hetairas do: listen with their souls. Women know this, but the picture has been lost, so we wander alone and unfulfilled. Why do people live alone? After your kids have moved out, why not live with other adults? Maybe you can figure that out, I can’t. I lived with one woman, I can live with several. I can cook, so they can stay out of the kitchen and not argue with each other. “Give, and don’t count the cost.” – St. Ignatius

  9. nikki says:

    I USED to have dark hair but it went gray early and now its unnaturally blond. But I’ve never been a blond in my soul…always the dark broody inside.

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