On Tuesday night I was a guest at Linda Borowski’s neighborhood book club, where fourteen women gathered in a comfortable circle. They had bought my novel A Bird in the House a few weeks before, and so were prepared with thoughts, questions, and comments. They listened to me talk. We drank wine. It was a really lovely evening with genuinely kind and interesting women.
At the beginning there was some discussion about the opening sentence of the novel…“Two women—one old, one ancient—sat on plastic chairs on their front porch.”
The objection was that the old woman was sixty-four. There was a hurt that ran around the circle. Did I really think that 64 was old? I don’t remember my response. I think I’ve probably blocked whatever I said, or maybe it’s my old memory failing me.
But now I’m questioning: What is “Old” anyway?
In the beginning of the novel, 64 year old Dee feels old, weighed down, dragging through her days. I should have said that to the book club. I’m pretty sure I didn’t.
But now I’m questioning further.
If you feel perking, happy, and enthusiastic about life, is 64 old?
I know. I know. If you’re around that age, you don’t want to be thought of as old. You’re only as old as you feel, right? I understand fully. Old is a bad word.
But, hell—let’s get real here; you can retire at 62 and get Social Security. At 65 you can go on Medicare. If you’ve reached those numbers of years on the planet, Honey, you are no spring chicken. You aren’t a teenager, or a Millennial, or part of Generation X Y or Z. You might be a Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964). Or maybe you’re part of that Silent Generation (born 1927-1945).
At 75, I’m part of the Silent Generation. I am old. It is what it is. But seriously…I have no intention of being Silent.
How old is OLD to you?
P.S. Thank you, Linda Borowski and neighbors.
It was fun. And I have lots of things to think about.