Monday, April 25, 2005

There's an old blues song by Bobby Blue Bland ...

named, "Age ain't nuthin' but a numba." I think's that's about right. I've never been able to guess anyone's age. My mother lived to be a still flirtatious 101 and enjoyed almost every minute of it, partly because of her personality and her lifelong naivete. She was still quite lovely to look at 95, small-boned and slightly built with a feminine soft roundness; always nicely dressed with hat and gloves as she went tripping downtown on the bus every Saturday afternoon to window shop and browse the sales (especially lingerie) -- and in 3 inch heels, to boot. Having that as a model of aging while mothering a mentally-retarded daughter who is a perennial teenager really bolluxes up the works. I lose all sense of what is or is not age-appropriate. I suppose it's all in the genes and/or one's consciousness. Have never obsessed over fleeting youth; having never really felt old. Really didn't begin to notice wrinkles and age spots until the past year or so. I hate my thinning hair, but love the dusting of white just now beginning to appear around the edges of my face.

Except for the fact that my wardrobe grows less and less age appropriate, it still works. I've always loved to wear "art" and "ethnic" and such pieces rarely grow out of fashion. Almost everything in my closets has been hanging for 25-30 years. There is little change in my height and weight since high school, still 5'3" and 127 pounds dripping wet, so it's been easy to simply grow past the age of acquisition and to continue to savor beautiful purchases all with connecting memories. I have dresses from Morocco and Egypt -- batiks from Thailand, silk brocades from Japan -- mostly gifts from Bill from long ago brought back from his travels to faraway places. There are lovely garments sent from Rewalser in the Himalayas by my friend, Lama Wangdor -- a cave dweller refugee from Llasa, and all garments once belonging to his mother. He brought them out when he fled the Chinese Invasion long ago. Brought them out with precious dzi stones sewn into their seams for safe passage through the mails. My jewelry is almost all antique with stories attached that stir dreams still vibrant; a beautiful chunky widow's bracelet of silver and ivory, and pendants of coral and turquoise purchased right from the neck of a Tibetan woman Bill met in a marketplace high up in Lahdak on the edge of Tibet in 1985 or thereabouts. There is the magnificent sherpa's choker -- silver overlaying some kind of black wood, so old and well-loved that the silver is worn thin or through in some places -- enough to cause me to wonder upon whose throat it had once rested and how long ago... and had it seen Everest...?

My kids grew into being my contemporaries at around the age of thirty, I think. From then on it was a case of sharing the search for the promises of maturity; my having never identified quite what that was.

Because of a deceptively youthful appearance, the men I tended to attract over the years were almost always far younger then I. But age usually reared it's ugly head right in the middle of such potential romances upon the realization that experience counts for an awful lot, and that young men lacked the essential life experience that adds to the wholeness of a person. Now, a "younger man" for me must be over 70 in order to meet the criteria for a meaningful relationship. The man that I married (the second time) was 7 years older and more than capable of keeping me envious and ever reaching for understanding of all that he knew ... .

I suppose what makes this post relevant would be the fact that it took at least 70 years to even begin to fully understand what it was that I needed for a sense of completion, and of how much of that was physical, emotional, or even available from outside of myself.

I'll bet Susan Sontag would understand what I'm talking about. Always wanted to share a cup of tea with that lady, but now it's too late ... .

Indeed, "age ain't nuthin' but a numba," and that numba becomes less and less relevant as the years pile on.

Photo: Beautiful very old ivory widow's bracelet Bill brought back to me from one of his Himilayan trips. The necklace is made of dzi stones from Tibet -- gifts from Lama Wangdor of Rewalser, India.

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