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How To Be Old


The first time I met my husband, he asked me how old I was. Apart from my disillusionment regarding Frenchman and charming pickup lines, I remember thinking I didn’t want to tell him how old I was because, and I really felt this at the time, I was old incarnate.


At 25, I was still in school, albeit grad school, but with no prospects for a real job anytime soon. I was driving a second-hand Honda Civic, the cute egg-shaped one, but without a first gear. Someone told me that the Japanese Emperor’s car in Japan had no first gear because it was beneath him, which is what I told my passengers so they wouldn’t think I was crazy for starting the car like you would a pedal scooter. And at 25, I was past the Japanese Christmas cake sell-by date, which used to be the way of saying that a woman’s time for marriage proposals had come and gone. She was too old.


Then a half-decade, some tenured work and a new Volkswagen Golf later, I get a call in Tucson, Arizona, from a florist on the Mexican border town of Nogales. The call is about a bouquet of flowers with a note attached to it that the Mexican florist can’t read, which gets the curious devil in me to make the two-hour roundtrip in the five-gear VW. In Nogales, the devil goes all the way and risks missing class by reading the note several times before strapping the vase of roses into the passenger seat under a mid-afternoon desert sun. On Highway 19 alongside tooting truck drivers she makes up her mind that her home will soon be an ex-home. London is calling to tie the knot, which is exciting except for the detail of settling down, which can be hard for a nomad when settling down sounds like code for old.


But then before she knows it, another half decade and a mortgage have gone by. The devil is sitting in a doctor’s office across the pond where the obstetrician is using a script to talk about geriatric pregnancies and D&Cs. The devil is crushed into becoming Lucy in the Peanuts, whose mind is now shot from the procedure. All she can hear is something about mature eggs and miscarriages, for a third time, which of course is OB talk for old.


Fast forward three and a half decades from that frenetic time of trying to start a new life and build a family, I’m amazed at the clarity that hindsight brings. Blessed with two of the best human beings anyone could ever wish for to call children, I’m now the proud owner of the London Freedom Pass that gets 60+ people anywhere for free in London. A perfect certification for a busy devil or an impatient Lucy, now that I’ve arrived here with all my years, I am officially licensed old. This, I guess means I’ve graduated to become Yoda, serenity incarnate. I’m searching for my saber and taking a deep breath.


Tumultuous though

the world it’s wonderful too

Trying Yoda calm


The UN International Day of Older Persons, the 1st of October is.

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