I first started thinking about this site when I turned sixty. You begin to realize time is finite when things start “running down”. As I said, that started happening to me when I turned sixty. I really didn’t feel any different than I did when I was thirty-five. Except for some days. Some days it was a little bit harder to get out of bed. I would start to get ready for work and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, who is that?. When did my hair start to silver? It used to take me a couple of hours with “Super-Lite” on my hair then another half hour with toner to get that effect. Now it’s just there. It became harder to roll out of bed at 2 am when my pager went off and pulling an “all-nighter” required some recovery time.
I began to notice that it was the younger co-workers that were sent to off-site training and cross-country conferences. I really started to think about it when I was among the group that was called in to discuss early retirement offers. Yes, time is finite and the world belongs to the young. That wasn’t me anymore.
I started to wonder what I would do, once I was “no longer relevant”. I entered the
workforce at the age of twelve. After that time, the longest I was ever unemployed was six months and that was when I was recovering from a massive stroke I suffered when I was twenty-six. I became an adult understanding that my value was totally dependent on how valuable I was to others. Knowing that, I missed all those moments with my soon-to-be-ex-husband because work was more important than marriage and because someone had to pay the rent. I missed my son’s first words and first steps because it was important that he have the advantages that I didn’t. And I wasn’t wrong about that! I missed the parent-teacher conferences and open houses because there was always more work to do–until one day, there wasn’t.
I wasn’t shocked at the layoff. In fact, I had expected it. It was when the “dot com” bubble burst and the “tech” sector was in trouble. I was in tech. I had been twenty-three years at my current job. I was vested in my pension and I had a nice severance package. My son and I would be fine. And we were–for a while. And we actually had the time to enjoy the leisure.
But then you begin to notice other little things. It begins to hurt and little more when you move and you begin to tire more easily. Your reflexes begin to slow and it begins to be a little more difficult to see things. When did I become the oldest person in the room? And who is this singer everybody is talking about, Justin Who? And most of all, what happened to your family? There is no one left but you. Who do you share those memories with, when you can actually grasp the memories? And you suddenly realize that you have outlived all of them. You are now older than any of your family have ever been. And your baby just turned fifty. There is now so much more time behind you than there is ahead.
You notice now that you are the one that people look at in puzzlement when you begin to talk. “It’s dead, Jim” What the hell does that mean? No one remembers “The Ellery Queen Mysteries” or “The Magician”. They know about “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gunsmoke” because they have entire television channels devoted to “the old stuff”. When did Johnny Carson become “that old guy”? It’s now a strange new world populated with “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” which isn’t real at all.
I miss the free (what a concept) concerts in Golden Gate Park, the Haight-Ashbury and the Age of Aquarius when all things were possible and the Summer of Love would last forever. Whoever thought there would be a San Francisco without Candlestick Park.
It becomes really scary when you have to struggle to remember the name of that blonde that used to dance at that club in San Francisco’s North Beach area. You know, the one with the really big boobs. Yeah, that’s her, Carol Doda at the Condor Club. The term “Alzheimers” gives you cold chills. Your teeth are beginning to go bad and you can’t justify the astronomical sums they demand to fix them. So you have them pulled one at a time because it’s cheaper and soon you have only a few left. Then your doctor tells you that you have “Cataracts” and will need surgery for them soon and you know you can’t afford that.
You begin to acknowledge that you have outlived your usefulness, your family, and your savings. You realize that you are not enjoying life, in fact, it is just the opposite. You have nothing to look forward to, no reason to get up in the morning, no purpose and you are just holding the people around you back. And that brings us to the purpose of the site.
The one thing that remained consistent through the march of years has been writing and, of course, reading. I would have loved to travel but there was never enough time, or cash. And once the paycheck stopped there was plenty of time…but no cash. So I traveled through my writing. And in my writing, I didn’t have to worry about my failing eyesight, protesting bones and silver hair. Because in my stories, I am permanently in my mid-thirties, my hair is still copper and long and my eyesight is still perfect. I jet back and forth between my condo in Marin, my brownstone in New York city and my villa in Italy without concern. And I meet the most interesting men, from the Grand Prix driver to the international spy to the World Cup skier. If only it were real. Is it any wonder that one would prefer fantasy to the reality.