Life through my living room window

There is a question that has been plaguing me lately. Not really a question. Perhaps more of an observation.

When did everyone get so old?

Athletes like Jack Nicklaus, dashing princes such as Prince Philip, heart throbs like Robert Redford–even perkiest of perkies Sally Field–are over 70, some a decade or two more.

I watch current movies and the sex symbols of my youth like Jessica Lange are now playing grandmothers, not femme fatales. King Kong’s object of affection is now a Nanna?

Men I used to think of as the hot dads at elementary school spring sings now have a head full of gray and tote grandchildren to these events.

Most notably watching this slow progression to the grave has started through my living room window. For thirty years I have seen the same faces walk past my house to ride the morning and evening trains to the city from our suburb.

Folks who used to jog to the train bouncing by my house with backpacks now shuffle by, humped over dragging their ancient briefcases. Some park outside my house to save the half-mile walk. Same faces. Same people. Just an image and persona that’s older. Tired.

It’s as though I have watched Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Man performed right out my front door.

Recently, we took our kids out to dinner for my son’s birthday. Being the hip mom that I am, I planned a pub crawl of sorts and at the first stop, the bouncer asked for ID’s.  Without blinking, I said I didn’t have mine. He gently patted my shoulder and said with a smile, “Don’t worry, we are letting minors in tonight.” He might have well asked to see my AARP card and offered me a walker. I knew I should have left my Ray Bans on a minute longer and taped my loose neck skin behind my ears.

I was standing in a children’s shoe department a few days later looking for Natives for my grandsons. (Natives are the new Crocs.) Their display is my least favorite merchandising idea of all time. They have each pair attached by cardboard hangers on long hooks off a pegboard with at least eight pairs to a hook. And the size you need is invariably in the back. So most often as you reach for your size, the entire line of shoes fall off to the floor or worse, the whole metal peg detaches from the wallboard and you are left with six pairs of rubber shoes dangling on the metal pole like you just played Go Fish for Keds at the county fair.

Anyway, as I reached for the size 11 , sizes 6 through 10 went tumbling to the floor, piles of colorful rubber rolling in all directions. I looked down and staring up at me was a miniature human no taller than my knee with saucer-sized blue eyes. “What happened here?” he asked earnestly, offering me a single capped toe orange shoe.

And I thought, “Man are you right, tiny person.”

What did happen here? Where are my babies and how I am shopping for grandkids?  Can tempus fugit  please stop? Or at least slow to a nice stroll?  Can I just take a deep breath before I am the face in old family pictures where the next generation asks, “Who is that again?”

I remember my mom saying in her 80’s that she looked in the mirror at a face that didn’t match the 18 -year -old girl that lived in her heart.  And maybe that’s the secret to aging.  Keeping your youthful joy in your soul.

It makes me think of one of my sister’s favorite quotes by Albert Camus:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Invincible summer. What a great name for a season.