My friend Lynn is so freakin’ lucky. Next week, she flies to Tampa and stays for four days in a rented house with three friends. Then she returns to RVa - via Harley Davidson!! What a great experience for her. For me, not so much as I had to go head on with that old familiar green-eyed monster: ENVY. But I’ll get over it.
What I found even more interesting than my own character defect was some other people’s reactions to her journey. Twice, in one day, Lynn was asked “aren’t you too old for this?” But, how can that be? Lynn’s my age - 50. Which is the new 30, right?
And even if it isn’t, why would you even ask a question starting with “aren’t you too old…?” Women, I think, probably hear this more than men. “Aren’t you too old to: get that tattoo, wear that outfit, go on that trip, sing at the Super Bowl, get pregnant, date that 29 year old, text, tweet or just be on facebook, wear a two-piece, pose nude for a camera, drive with the top down, eat cake for dinner or wear those thigh-high boots?”
To me, the real question is, why are people asking? Is it displaced envy? Do they secretly wish they had the balls to be free like Lynn? Or do they want to pass their inhibitions onto her to make her one like them: afraid, denying, hiding, isolated, secluded, trod-upon, poor, embarrassed, inhibited and unsure. One word: absofreakinlutely!!! Someone (a woman, younger than I by a year or two) told me in front of a group that she thought “adults being on facebook was creepy” when she found out I was. Yes - she used that word. Then after she found out how much fun me and everybody else was having on facebook, she joined. I wouldn’t have after making that kind of comment; but that’s just me. Wait a minute, I wouldn’t have judged me in the first place.
The point is that many people are fearful of living soul-fulfilling, fruitful lives. They grudgingly trudge to jobs they hate, stay in relationships out of fear because misery is (to them) better than being alone and then they die…way before they ever lived. Sad really. But oh, so true. I feel such pity for those who don’t know how to live, who won’t let themselves let go and enjoy life, who deny themselves pleasure, joy and happiness.
So when you ask me (if you dare) that question, expect a resolute “hell to the no I’m not too old!” I lived the first half of my life in a fog. I did the things I was “supposed” to do. And now, well, now, in the words of poet Jenny Joseph “I will make up for the sobriety of my youth.”
Because I am still youthful and sexy and giddy at times and always, always happy and content. And if given the chance, I would be on that bike myself. And what’s more, I secretly love knowing that the reason they ask is because they’ll never have my bravery, my confidence or my zest for life. Maya Angelou gets it: Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance like I have diamonds at the meeting of my thighs? Yes Dr. Angelou - some are upset that you confidently wrote that just like they’re upset that Lynn will add more awesome memories to her repertoire. They’re upset because we do that thing which brings us joy, to live our lives and love our lives and that’s what makes us rich beyond words. And they're upset because they don't. And they’ll use that “o” word weapon to try to make us recoil in fear and become them. But we won’t. Because we know better. Because we know best.
So the next time you hear the words “aren’t you too old…” remember this. If they have to ask, they can’t afford the answer.