New Chapters

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My new photographer is taking a break I guess. So it’s back to my poor photographs. I really fail in this and other categories. (Math skills??) Abby loves to remind me of the photos I took when I went to Lafayette, Louisiana, with dear friends Jamie and Bryan. We had a blast at a Zydeco festival and my pictures showed images of people’s disembodied dancing feet. I also got a few snaps of frogs with my finger in the frame.

My thoughts this week have been about the liberation I feel at being seventy. I remember being at a conference long ago and hearing Carolyn Heilbrun, feminist writer and author of the Amanda Cross mysteries. She was celebrating her sixtieth birthday and told the group that she was thrilled because at that age women become invisible to the male gaze, so she no longer felt compelled to hold in her stomach!

While I do my best to avoid becoming invisible with my gaudy red hair and crazy clothes, I no longer give a damn about whether others approve of how I look. I dress for myself and have a great time selecting clothing and wearing fun things. It’s a kind of art form. An expression of my creativity.

The main thing I feel so good about, though, is that I am finally free to pursue whatever interests I have. I loved teaching, especially in the years before Juvie, because each day was unique and I got to hang around with fabulous young people and be a part of communities of scholars at Riverdale Country School and Charlotte Country Day. Yet, being a teacher at an independent school eats up every minute of your life not dedicated to family.  There was never time to try something else or explore other passions.

Now that I am not consumed by teaching I am free to flex my wings. Running a store and being my own boss have always been dreams of mine. I can finally buy and sell beautiful things, decorate the store, and be available when friends drop by to visit. I say thank you to Social Security for opening this door!

I observe other friends experiencing the same sense of freedom and purpose that I do. Some are dedicating themselves to working for political change, some to peace and social justice issues, and some spending the time they have longed for to work on their art.

I am so lucky to have such a sturdy constitution and such good health. My crazy father and his family all lived active, healthy lives into their late nineties, and God willing, I have time to explore my passions in good health.

When I was younger, I thought that getting older and not being employed full time would be like going into hibernation. I  pictured myself sitting on a porch in a rocking chair waiting for the lights to go out. I should have been paying closer attention to my maternal grandfather who started a new business in his eighties. Old age doesn’t have to mean turning off the lights and locking up the doors. As long as we can, we can grow and learn.