By Rosalie Tirella
Driving down Green Street into the new “Peanut Square” makes me feel old. Old because all the upstart trendy shops on my once working class childhood street/magical touchstone – the new all-bacon restaurant, the bo bo tapioca drinks, the glorified high-calorie pub food, the black bralettes, the shabby-chic reclaimed/refinished furniture – are meant to attract the young. I would have loved this new Green Street if I were “newer” – say 25 years old, or maybe even rounding 30 … Ahh! The perfect blouse! Now I know that guy in philosophy class will notice me! … Hey, what’s the customer next to me buying? She’s prettier than me! Sigh. … Cool end table at this shop! Perfect for my new one-bedroom by the highway!
I will be 59 years old next month. I call it 60. May as well. I usually go a step further and label myself an “old broad.” The chuckles rounded with … sadness, wistful feelings.
When you are old like me, cool end tables don’t excite you the way they did when you were 25 and an apartment virgin. You have lived in a bunch of apartments! In third-rate cities with your – or so you thought – first-rate dreams! The funky sofas and vintage lamps you have scored through the years blend into each other these days. A waste of time, all that ridiculous shopping. But necessary at the time! I was 27 and in love with blues, all hues. These days the chairs and plant stands and water gobblets are an afterthought as you begin to ponder … death. YOUR death!! A very real, tangible kind of possibility. Now an impossibility. You are 60 now and can imagine it death “happening” to you. Say in 10 or 20 years. The blink of an eye! It will, like birth, be painful. It will, like birth, be a solitary exercise. Vintage end tables seem pointless compared to the Grim Reaper. I fear the reaper!!
You dream of your estranged sister, both of you kids in your childhood home in your dream, in the old ugly living room on Lafayette Street watching The Honeymooners on Bapy’s black and white Philco TV. The conversation you had with your estranged sister in your dream two weeks ago feels more real than the chit chat you had today with your pal down the street! …
Lucky times, missed opportunities. You see the big picture and realize: It was all a crap shoot!! You controlled so little of it all! Your birth. Your birthplace – and time. Your family. Even your marriage. Your remarriage. Your move to this city or a hightail to that town…and then life just sorta unfurled. Sometimes slowly, sometimes fast enough to give you whiplash. Sometimes with such heart-wrenching beauty or cruelty. You marvel at all the goodness in the world and you’re horrified by all the ignorance. You realize the men who loved you in your diaphanous blouses can leave you, no matter how seductive you look in that billowy blouse. For new girls in new blouses. Maybe made of linen – or (horror of horrors) even polyester! And he sticks with polyester girl – and you say: POLYESTER!??? … You realize blouses have nothing to do with love! Having similar ethnicities, churches, work ethics, childhoods and values are better predictors of “love” and successful relationships. Two neuroses “clicking.” That’s what love means to me at 60. I don’t take it too personally these days.
At 60, you look at all the gourmet donuts, fancy sugar-laden cupcakes (again gourmet), artisan pizza pies in all the Green Street shop windows and your arteries ache.
At 60, you have seen a lot, and you begin to make up your mind about people in about 20 minutes. This is bad. But you’ve been around and think you sense the patterns – like the old f*rt (a stereotype!) you’ve become! You see and ignore: the shallow bland blond rich white girl with nothing to say; the arrogant blobby millennial guy who works in IT and thinks he’s attractive but is a fat slob to you and most Boomers who were slim, at times anorexic, when we were young. Then there’s the white trash young woman and her six kids … the junky homeless guy … the pointless WASP money guy, so oblivious to the working class.
They all have their stories but you cannot hear them. A disgrace! You are alarmed at your closed mind, but you are trying to make sense of your little existence! You realize you were just a drop in the universal water bucket but you were eternity, too. Just like all the other people-drops …