When I see a clutch of pretty young girls walking along the street, chatting and checking their phones and talking loudly about the latest celeb they’d like to meet, I just smile. When I see high school boys playing a pickup game of basketball and talking about the girls they like and so on, I just smile.
Now and then I treat myself to the occasional hot chai latte (the only really “foo-foo” drink I like) from the local coffee shop in our town. Phillips Exeter Academy is close by, and often the place is filled with students.
Generally they ignore me, but when they do see me there, a woman older than their moms; they either ignore me or gawk at me for being in their “space.” It doesn’t bother me; I’m there for the latte, not the kids. And usually, there are a few more oldsters in there like me.
Sure, it may be a student hangout, but the door is open to anyone; no age limit. I just order my drink and enjoy watching people. I remember those days in college when I felt I could do anything, be anything, go anywhere. I couldn’t imagine myself at age 25 or 30. My body was flexible and strong, I only needed the barest of makeup, and my hair always looked good.
I never gave much thought to the future. I never thought of becoming older. I never thought I would become an older woman with most of my adventures behind me. I couldn’t imagine being married, or having children, or burying my parents. All of that was far, far ahead of me.
If I gave any thought at all to the future, it always had me as the starring role; still young, still good-looking and still able to do almost anything. Well, I made it through the 20s, the 30s, the 40s, the 50s, and now I am in my 60s. In fact, the 70s are slowly but surely creeping up on me as well.
I remember looking into my grandmother’s face, wreathed in wrinkles, her formerly red hair turned silver. I remember thinking ‘I’ll never be that old!’ But time passes, and we do get older.
I imagine that, to these young and fresh kids in college that I must look quite grandmotherly to them. They will probably think, as I once did, ‘I’ll NEVER be (or look) that old!’ They will think, as I once did, that they will always want to wear the highest high heels and the latest fashions. They will think, as I once did, that they will be young and beautiful forever.
My advice to them is this: “just you wait.” And no, that is not a mean or petty phrase; it just means that, whether we like it or not, time marches on and we with it. Our lives are what we make it, and our outer shell may suffer from age, but our spirits are still strong and bright.
I think of the time still ahead of me, and how precious that is. I think of all those “today” moments; a cup of hot strong coffee in the morning, cats rubbing around my ankles, the Crankee Yankee’s laughter, the time with dear friends, the trips up and down the coast, the wonderful change of seasons, the phone calls from our granddaughters who always say “when you come over, bring doughnuts!”
I can even imagine that, when my time comes (or, as the Brits say, when my ‘expirey’ date comes due) when I will go on from this earth, that there will be at least one or two loved ones waiting for me, smiling and saying “just you wait!”