Even though at 65 I have a lot of aches and pains, I also have a lot of younger friends who don’t care – or notice.
To keep them, I stick to these five rules:
- Don’t judge.
- Be open minded.
- Try new things like long distance travel.
- Maintain your sense of humor.
- Seek out the fun in new situations.
The adage, age is just a number, is true in my case, but it’s strange. I was always the one who was older than the rest of my grade school class, in college classes and even the job scene. In kindergarten, I started at just four years old and got held back a grade for being emotionally immature. This act started a trend, and I eventually didn’t go to college until I was 20. I was always just older and didn’t act my age (I still don’t).
Ticking off one of the reasons for what some would call, my delayed maturity, I never wanted to miss a minute of fun – or what I perceived as an epic idea.
I once took a dusty train ride to Mazatlán in Mexico from Nogales, Az. The train was black tar colored, older than even me, and huffed and puffed its way through dusty mountains, finally to the azure blue sea of Mexico. You’d think I’d be scared, but I thought it was a great way to travel. The train cars were full of people who presumably weren’t used to high class travel. The filthy threadbare seats were full of white, clucking chickens who were along for the ride. It took about 24 hours. When we got hungry, there was a potato vendor on the train. I took my younger friend Jill, who spoke fluent Spanish. We had $100 dollars between us and two weeks to kill. We had already booked a Holiday Inn so we were covered there. When we got to Mexico, she met a man, and I didn’t see her again for the rest of the trip. That’s the kind of thing younger women do and this was pre-cell phone. I was just hoping she was alive.
Now that I’m an oldster, the ones I find myself doing the most with are young people that have a willingness to explore new things. I retired, but still took on some side gigs such as selling wine and even Dyson vacuum cleaners and $500 blow dryers. Everyone who works selling things is a lot younger than me and I recently worked with one. When our shift was over, she said, “Do want to go get a bloody Mary?” Sure, I thought, but won’t you be embarrassed with your grandma? Nope, this 28-year-old was game and so was I. It’s the attitude. I try never to judge. It makes you old.
On one vacuum foray, I met a young saleswoman working at the store I was at.
“They told me not to talk to you because you’re crazy,” she said matter of factly.
To be honest, I have heard that before.
Now, we’re close friends and I’m off to her baby shower.
“Maybe after I have my baby we can go to Mexico for the weekend,” she said.
“Sounds good,” I said and I meant it.
On the flip side, I also have a 98-year-old friend. She’s had a bevy of facelifts and looks absolutely fabulous. When I laugh with her I don’t know her age and she doesn’t know mine. She’s one of the hippest and funniest women I’ve ever known.
At this point, there really isn’t a lot of time for pain. We need to get our bucket lists finished. I’m always surprised when younger women want to come along for the ride.
For one thing, they have a lot of energy, and curiosity. They rarely say no if I say let’s go to Seville, Spain in November. They might think it’s a great idea and start packing. Some friends my age might question my sanity if I asked them to go to Spain.
“Why not,” I would say. Right now, I feel like I’m kind of lucky, kind of. I can travel now without too much trouble. My entire life I’ve felt just jumping on a plane and going anywhere takes planning. I spent the last year taking care of my dying father who really wanted to stay alive and now I think, “to hell with planning.” Find the inner Jane, who still thinks she might get into a little trouble with her friends.
I want to stay open and not set limits. Young people talk about formerly taboo subjects like the latest vibrator, like it’s perfectly normal conversation. They’re not afraid and why should I be?