Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where have the years gone?

Today my guest is Marianne Stephens. As a Baby Boomer, she finds herself wondering how life has gone by so
quickly, and focusing on what still awaits. Give her a warm welcome as she discusses a topic that affects all of us.

I look at myself today and wonder how those extra pounds cemented to my body ever got the chance to take up permanent residence. And, the gray in my dark hair? When did that start? Frown lines? Wrinkles? Aching knees and body?

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to turn 16. Then 18. Then 21. Then, 30. After that, I was just too busy raising a family and teaching to worry about age. When I turned 50, I actually felt surprising good. It was turning that dreaded 60 that depressed me.

All the fun emails people send me about “remember when” are entertaining…and things I do remember. My memories of growing up before I got married now seem so distant, as the years I’ve been married outnumber the years I was single.

When did I get so old?

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I, like everyone else, remember certain important things from my past. Growing up and going to school. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And, saying the “Our Father” prayer in school because it was perfectly acceptable to do so. I remember leaving school early every Thursday to walk to religious instruction, and no one mentioned the fact that a public school allowed this early dismissal for religious reasons. It just happened.

I remember gym suits and respecting teachers. Dressing appropriately was important and not something argued about. Nothing was said about “free speech in dress”, long hair for boys, earrings, makeup, etc. We followed rules and did as told. Air raid drills were common in schools. Getting into trouble meant your parent would meet with the teacher and you’d be disciplined.

I remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot, and how I’d told my mother that morning that I’d had a “vision” he was going to be killed. Eerie thought to have, and worried me for months. How did I know that would happen?

I remember the deaths of loved ones, the marriages and births of others.

I remember being in a car accident and falling out the door (no seat belts then) and thinking to myself, “I’m dead.” I vowed not to drive again but did.

I remember how important school studies were, and how we all needed to take a foreign language to get into college. Driving was a privilege, not a demand. Working was important, and you never left a job without giving two weeks notice. Unheard of. Not ethical. Not done.

I’m a baby boomer, and life is so different now. But, I’m older, and can sit back and watch as I reflect on what was, what is, and ponder what will be. Medicare age is fast approaching, and that will bring a new installment in the book of my life. Can I be that old?

My 40th High School reunion is this October. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends again. When once we talked about college hopes, careers, marriage and raising families, now we’ll talk about retirement, health issues, and grandchildren.

I taught for years, then began my writing career “late in life”. The sensuous or erotic scenes I write I’d never have written before. But, I’m older now. At peace with myself. Not out to please others or prove anything to anyone as to what I write. I do it for me.

I think about a scene from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” where the character played by Kathy Bates waits patiently for a parking space, only to have two young women zip into the spot before she can move her car. She tells them she was waiting for the spot, only to have them tell her that they’re younger and faster.

First instinct would have you angry but accept rudeness from younger, flighty people and search for another spot. In this case, however, the character rams her car into the younger girls’ car a few times. When they scream at her, she replies that she’s older and has more insurance.

I love that scene. It reminds me that I’m older, don’t have to give a damn what others think, and can do as I please (within the law, of course). I no longer shrink back into a corner of silence if I don’t agree with others more vocal. I speak my mind, if I feel I need to.

With age comes the wisdom to know when to speak, and when to shrug it off and walk away. Picking my battles keeps me sane, and preaching to deaf ears gets me nothing but pain. Life has changed, the rules have changed, people have changed, but I’ll roll with the punches…as long as you don’t get in my way and irritate me.

Then, be prepared to hear me roar. I’m older now and not afraid to speak.

For more about Marianne, visit her website. For her mainstream romances, look here and here.

In addition, Marianne writes erotic romance books as April Ash. Find them here.


Mason Canyon said...

Wonderful post and hit home with me on so many levels. I haven't reached 60 yet and have a few years left, but I know it will be here in a blink of an eye.

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome post - that's a great scene for sure. There are advantages to all the ages I've been through so far.

Paris said...

I love this post! Dh and I were just talking about how the older we get the less we worry about what other people think;-)And that's my favorite scene in "Fried Green Tomatoes" too!

Debra St. John said...

Ah, age is such a strange creature. In my mind I don't feel like I've left my late twenties or early thirties sometimes, but my in-my-forties- body sometimes tells me a different story.

It's so weird to look back on things and say, "I remember when", when it seems like just yesterday they were happening for real.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks to Marianne for this post -- she'll be checking in to respond to comments later. I know the first time I felt "old" was when I remembered some significant even that had happened when I was an adult, not a kid. "Back in the day" is becoming a phrase used all too frequently around here.

Fran Lee said...

LOL! Great post, Marianne!

Sandy said...

Love it, Marianne.

April Ash said...

Mason...hitting 60 came so quickly. The "big 50" seemed like a milestone and I didn't mind it. But 60 just hit me as if saying "You're old, girl!"
Jemi...yes, each decade seems to have its advantages. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with myself.
Paris...I honestly don't remember most of the Fried Green Tomatoes movie except that scene. It just hit me as "yep...that's how I feel!"
Debra...when I look in a mirror, I don't really see how old I am...I still think with a younger mindset, see my reflection that way (most days!), but my older body sure has its aches and pains!
Terry...I remember my parents saying, "When I was your age..." and now I say the same thing!
Fran...thanks for stopping by. We're NOT really that old, are we? Young minds keep us young!

Anita Birt said...

Thanks for the memories. I am writing my "memories" for my family. It's a wonderful exercise in stirring up my aged brain. I start way back when I was five in 1928. I've reached aged thirteen and have a long, long way to go.

I e-mail my memories to my immediate family and love receiving their encouraging comments. Looking back on my growing up years is very special because my sister and brother have passed away and I am the holder of the family flame.

Terry said...

Thanks for sharing your insights. I enjoyed this. Boomers are really quite young compared to generations past of the same age.

There were a lot of great scenes in that movie but that one was the best and it's my fave too:) (other Terry)

Sheila Deeth said...

Nice one. The gray hairs started as soon as I had kids, so I know who I blame them on. Not 60 yet, but heading that way too fast.

April Ash said...

Yep...kids seem to bring on the gray hairs...and it gets worse the older they get!
Thanks for the comment, Sheila!

Carol A. Strickland said...

Sometimes I wonder if all the rudeness from the "whippersnappers" was truly not around when I was younger, but I don't recall it. I've been reading about the rise of nymphomania in our culture--fascinating and frightening!--that's being blamed as the cause for it. Then I wonder if all the hysteria is meant to sell the books, like the "Fear Monger's Shop" used to do on "Prairie Home Companion." // When someone puts my opinions down as irrelevant because I'm "old," I mostly just sit back, laugh, and say, "Wait a few years, kid." Maybe they'll have regrets and maybe not. Maybe I'll wind up bashing their cars. Me, I'm enjoying the richness of life that comes when one has long experience.

April Ash said...

Carol - Can't beat that attitude! With age and experience comes peace of mind and that "I don't hafta give a damn anymore" attitude. I'm happy with me!

Jean Hart Stewart said...

Great post. I enjoy getting older and cooling down a little. I used to get so angry at stupid people. Now I just think, "poor things". Have a lot more energy that way. Cruel people I still blow up at, but not so much. Love being older,myself, Jean

April Ash said...

Thanks for your comment, Jean. Yep...save that energy...they too will grow older and hopefully wiser!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love that Marianne is 60+ and writes erotic romance. That's called aging with style.

April Ash said...

Patricia - Thanks! I'm free to be me and do as I please...love writing romances!