A R T S Until about five years ago, if you asked what the number 65 meant to me, I would’ve replied, “That was a great year! That was the year the Beatles released Rubber Soul! I was 14 and I’d just written my first batch of songs.” These days, however, it means I have to make a trip to the Social Security office to fill out a bunch of forms, and make an appointment to see my doctor to check the dosages of the prescriptions I must take.
But, really, if I’m honest, it means less to me than it used to. I’ve been on a pretty involved, eye-opening journey for the past five years, one that’s led me to realizations that seem to be pretty typical of a lot people my age. Sometimes it’s been complicated by the constant battle of Old Notions vs New Insights, which I think is especially pronounced in this time of age bias and youth worship. I don’t think my grandparents—or even my parents—had to draw so many lines in the sand and stand up against so many devils. Life during their generations was pretty cut and dry. Grow up, marry, have kids, have grand kids, get old. The pressure to stay youthful, firm, fashionable (women), productive (men), f**kable, and fascinating just wasn’t part of their reality. Not like today, anyway. It was perfectly fine at a certain age to start dressing less provocatively, to gain a little weight, to go gray, and to slow down. I remember that if a woman didn’t dress in “age-appropriate” clothing, if she wore youngish makeup and jewelry, colored her hair, or surrendered to cosmetic surgery, she was judged severely for not growing old gracefully. We still battle this to some degree, but not as much as, say 40-plus years ago.
As I move closer to my birthday, I really don’t feel 65. Or what I somehow imaged 65 was supposed to feel like. In fact, as long as I stay away from mirrors it’s easy for me to drift into a perpetual state of thirty-something. Not physically, but internally. Me. That person who looks out through these eyes. Some days I feel even younger and I’m obligated to do things I used to do, like put on the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and dance with myself (which usually plunges me into feeling a lot older the next day).
SK Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge, takes places in late 70s London. Read more at SK Waller Blog and SKWaller.com.