It was the kind of evening when the wind found every opening in my heavy winter wrappings. There was no escaping the chill that went through my bones as I sat on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth as it sailed down the Hudson River toward the Atlantic and the beginning of our 109 day world cruise.
With my beret pulled down over my ears and scarf wrapped around my neck as high as possible, I leaned against the railing facing the winds watching he magnificent New York City skyline, swimming by so slowly.
Weeks before my friends Lou and Cathy who live in the Village vowed they would add to our send-off by signaling to us from the end of the Christopher Street Pier as we sailed by.
It seemed a great idea at the time, until our sailing was delayed into the darkness and severe winter weather was moving in. So much for a sendoff, I disappointedly thought. Lou would be working and Cathy would be alone.
As we moved along, suddenly I saw a flicker…a blinking beam of bright light coming from the Christopher Pier. Once, twice, three times. She had come. She had come in the darkness and waited in the cold to wish us a bon voyage as she had promised. Cathy’s life was all about the gift of caring. I will always miss you my dear friend.
This week’s over-fifty ramblings are more about frustration than anything else. I’m sure you’ve been there at some point this week.
It’s all about steps. I really am quite fond of steps. Or to clarify that, stairs. Whenever I have had a chance to take an elevator, or steps, the latter are usually what I opt for when I’m not loaded down with stuff. Why? Because I’m crazy? Or because I know it’s good for me? I guess a little bit of both.
I watched my parents live a very healthy life into their nineties without any mobility problems, so I’ve always attributed that to the fact that they always lived where they had to go up and down steps.
Here in South Beach we live in an attractive six story Mediterranean atrium style building incorporating a group of duplex and triplex penthouse townhouse units accessible by elevator. Having three floors in our unit I have stairs every day and I don’t think anything of running up and down during the day. No problem. But when leaving the house, I always take the elevator to the lobby. Cooler and easier in this tropical climate.
Well, here I go fast forwarding again. Our new management company was not happy with our current elevator service so they canceled the contract without reading the ‘no cancel’ clause. The result? When the elevator broke down shortly thereafter there was no one to fix it and now the attorneys are fighting over who can do it. In the meantime, we have been without elevator service for almost six weeks now and I have lost my idiot love of stairs.
These days I can be found at least six round trip times a day climbing three fights of dastardly cement stairs stripped in yellow in the hot stairwell just carrying on with my life. I’m not building cardio vascular strength, but instead building dread every time my intercom rings summoning me to the lobby to fetch something I have to drag up three floors.
My contribution to the world economy has definitely stopped and if I ever see the woman who canceled our contract without reading it I just might give her a swift kick in the derrière, or sentence her to walk up and down our hot stairwell steps in perpetuity.
I may have mentioned it before, but I was such a big fan of Irma Bombeck, the satirical columnist/housewife. Bombeck was an American humorist who achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s. Her humorous takes on what was so much of my real life during that time and kept me going with my chin up when my derrière was dragging.
One of the things that she said years ago that really resonated with me is “The grass grows greener over the septic tank.” I’ve never forgotten that. Every time I have been through a terrible circumstance in my life, I always try to remember her insight. Trying oh so hard to believe that I am learning from whatever I am plowing through and that I will be growing more in so many ways because I mucked through that particular experience.
Those thoughts bring me to this. Listening to the news lately, looking around me concerned about what’s happening in the world I’m getting kind of scared about the future of our country. What’s happening with my grandchildren’s generation?
I’m wondering how many of these young kids really have the guts and the fortitude to take their knocks and get up again from life’s hits. I have this terrible feeling that my children’s generation have coddled these kids so much that they won’t be able to survive unless they are hidden in a safe room and someone is patting the top of their heads telling them that everything is okay and they are so special that they deserve life’s rewards without doing the hard work to achieve it.
I hate to sound like a petty old grandma, but the reality is, neither I nor you, I’m sure, ever got much unless we worked for it and do you know what the result of that was? We really were so proud of what we achieved. We felt we had done something on our own. We really appreciated the benefits of personal achievement. No one gave us a trophy if we didn’t deserve it.
The hope for all of us is that there are parents out there who get it. Parents who really make their children work to achieve to be independent thinkers in their lives. They will be the movers and shakers not afraid to take risks. They will be the ones who are sending their parents on a cruise because they love them and they’re also going to pick up the tab.
Growing up I know the fire I always have felt when told it couldn’t be done. As an adult I know when I was drowning I took my sinking high heels out of the glop, changed into my running shoes and told myself tomorrow was another day.
How did us old folk get so smart? We earned it by trial and error. Taking risks – sometimes winning and sometimes losing and not hiding under the covers through the storms. We didn’t have ‘Thunder Shirts’ that made us think everything was peachy during difficult times. We wiped off the dirt and moved forward.
I received a photo and text from my oldest daughter on Tuesday that at first made me laugh, then whisked me down memory lane forty-two years and just as quickly, jerked me into the present and just on the cusp of shedding big whopping mama tears on my iPhone.
Maybe it was because it has been raining for three weeks, or maybe it was because my husband inadvertently forgot how to read labels and put a lethal amount of pepper in our spaghetti sauce, or maybe it was because I had a milestone birthday last week, or maybe it was because I am beginning to have unexpected moments of mourning my youth. I don’t know and, honestly, really can’t explain the sanity of a picture of sheets putting me over the edge. Sheets!
But something real definitely triggered emotions within me seeing those “oh so 70’s” psychedelic sheets. The very same sheets that I bought for the girls’ twin beds when we moved to New Jersey. The ones that the pink and orange crazed decorator in me loved so much. And you guessed it, I just had to continue the theme by buying extras to make curtains.
Maybe those sheets reminded me that I was once young, hip and full of surprises. They reminded me that the children are gone, grown and on their own. No more bedrooms to decorate, clothes to pick up, or beds to make. How fast it all went. And where oh where did that 70’s girl go?
P.S. Yes, I still do have one. I use it to carry leaves to the leaf pile in the fall.
I’m in love with the guy who is painting my house. Well, not in a ‘Love’ love way, but in a sort of “if I were only 18 again” way. When I saw my painter balancing two stories high on a ladder with a paint can held by one finger, I was convinced painting houses was just his hobby. There was no doubt in my mind that on his ‘real work’ days he was in the ring giving a slam dunk to his WWF opponent.
Three men could inhabit his muscular body and there would still be extra room. His biceps are bigger than my husband’s waist and the dark hair on his head is even bigger. And the most attractive asset of all, he is young. What more could a woman want I fantasized while loading the dishwasher for the millionth time, my B-12 pill melting on my tongue without water because the dishwasher hose was still attached to the sink faucet. And never mind the herbal conditioner that was aimlessly dripping down the side of my neck from underneath my shower cap and onto my robe. The Rock, or whatever his name, was painting my house.
What caused me to begin to lose my Sassoned white head, you ask? Well, it all started when my husband sourly suggested he was becoming unnerved by listening to my classical music all day long and immediately put on a couple of rock CD’s by his favorite artist, my son. Emerson does create great music, but the soothing sounds of violins and cellos somehow help carry me through mundane tasks of the day.
I’ve always categorized my life in music phases: The Four Aces, Bill Haley and Elvis represent my adolescent memories; Johnny Mathis, Montavonni, and Peter, Paul and Mary my baby-raising years: Kiss, Springsteen, Buffalo Springfield and anything else my three teenagers played at mega-decibel levels represent my ‘whatever’ years.
And now, this seemingly useless information I’ve just shared with you about music tastes, segues us back to The Rock who is painting my house. I really didn’t fall in “love, not really “LOVE” with The Rock. I fell in love with the dichotomy between his physical age and appearance and his taste in music.
All day long, The Rock listens to his portable radio he never has more than five feet away from his ladder. And the music that filters through my windows brings me back to my teenage life. To my amazement, music of the 50’s is the music that makes Rock’s heart beat. It is his taste in music that I love.
And it is his music that makes me feel alive again by sparking anew the excitement of finding teenage love in a time once lived.
Now, I haven’t told you yet because I am a fairly new blogger here, but I have been a vegan for over 30 years and I have always pushed myself to exercise and keep my body moving beyond the daily routine of living and working, but by gosh I am….well, well over the other side of fifty – kinda’ reluctantly doing the down hill slide. But, I admit even when I don’t feel like it, which is honestly most of the time, I drag myself outdoors and always wind up feeling better for it. And for these last 40 years I have been lucky to live in an area with scenic paths along the ocean and green hills to climb. A great thing that kept me motivated in my pre-ipod years.
My young friend finally convinced me it would be fun and maybe the primary benefit to me would be a reality check on how fit I really was (or not) at my age. She wasn’t crazy enough to consider my placing, she knew I just would be grateful to cross the finish line without the paramedics waiting for me. My husband joked that he would take no odds on me, unless it was to be the ultimate loser.
With that cheerful send-off packed full of confidence building some husbands are able to endow their wives in times of need, I walked to the sign-up area in the park near the starting line, got my blue T-shirt and nervously made small talk with the mostly younger, younger men and women there. The majority with their glistening South Beach tans and flawless laminated smiles. I pulled my geezer Cunard Cruise Line ball cap lower to disguise my white hair and even though by now I was really having second thoughts, I would drag myself forward, knowing the show must go on.
The whistle blew and away we all went up Ocean Drive in South Beach and around the course that curved back to the initial starting line at South Pointe Park. Like a seasoned thoroughbred, I surprised myself at my steady pace. Surely, I didn’t want to drop dead on Ocean Drive and have the humiliation of people stepping over me. Just keep going and you’ll finally either have a stroke and will be on the evening local news, or just maybe you will be able to at least finish this thing, I kept telling myself. My pride was driving me more than anything. I am such a sick-thinking person, I would have murmured under my breath, but by that time I could hardly catch it.
I really didn’t pay attention to any of the other runners. I just kept running and the more I ran my energy grew. Wow. Not bad. Okay. I’m still alive. Surely the finish line is up here somewhere. My heart was pounding and I felt flushed as I gave one final sprint of energy over the finish line that was just ahead, finally in sight.
I saw the paramedic truck there, probably waiting for me,I thought, but my quivering lips just managed a shaky smile as I passed by. This senior has gotcha this time, fellas!
Well, I hung around to go home with my friend and what do you know, I got a nice little trophy to take home. Third Place. OMG. I couldn’t believe it. Now I REALLY am going to have a stroke! Wow! Not bad for an old gal. I sooooo even surprised myself! Way to go girl, I told myself.