Thursday, February 09, 2006

When I'm 64

When my Nana turned 64 some years back, my cousins Brett and Jono sang the entire Beatles song, "When I'm 64" to her on video.

Meanwhile, I was insanely jealous of my Nana. She had the life. Every night, she and Papa would go in the T.V. room and watch Cagney and Lacey. Nana would knit and Papa would play solitaire as his pipe smoke filled the room. How could I fast forward 54 years? I wondered.

My life, on the other hand, was extremely dramatic--or so I thought at the time. There were crushes, fights with friends, embarrassment over not fitting in, homework I forgot about. What did I do to deserve all this? I thought. I just wanted to knit socks.

I was too young to consider what my grandparents had to go through before they retired to the T.V. room: the Great Depression, World War II, raising 10 kids...By the time my Grandma was 10 years old, she was cooking dinner every day after school while her mother worked. My Papa helped support his family, too.

They met at their apartment building when my Nana was 12 and Papa 16, and living with his sister. Nana used to listen for him whistling up the steps and then just happen to be standing in the hallway when he walked by. Her crush lasted a long time before they dated--longer than any of my crushes endured. Once they married, Papa went to college while he generated customers for his insurance business by knocking on doors. Meanwhile Nana clothed and fed 10 kids. My mom said Nana always had time to laugh at their antics.

Then the kids moved away one by one. Noises of laughter and popcorn popping and dogs barking and teenagers whispering on the phone were replaced by the sound of Cagney and Lacey. Though there was less work to do, my grandparents kept their hands busy, probably by habit.

Papa showed me how to play solitaire five different ways, which I picked up on right away. Nana tried to teach me how to knit, to no avail. I was ready to be 64.

But now that I'm almost 30, I am not in such a hurry. For the first time, I wish I could freeze time, not fast-forward it. My kids are home with me and they want to cuddle on the couch and read books together. I know that won't last forever.

Heartbreaks over not fitting in are just observations now. Like seeing that oranges are too pricey at the store and deciding not to buy them. I forget my homework, like laundry, on purpose now. My friends and I don't fight anymore and I wonder what we ever fought about in the first place.

I thought about this as I walked home from my book club last night. Just being in a book club makes me happy. We don't discuss books or anything, just like my bunko group doesn't play bunko. We just talk. Talking is a lot of fun when you're 30 or 40. You know enough to offer advice to others--don't worry, you tell them, but not enough to follow your own advice. And so you continue to worry, giving you lots to talk about.

Last night, one of the book club members mentioned how when you're a little kid, you act like yourself. Then you go to school and change to fit in. Then, as a grownup, poof, you're yourself again.

"That's called being 30," the hostess said.

Amen. It's a good thing I never found that fast forward button.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen is right...I love this time. "Be Here Now"...can be hard to do, but when you figure that out, it feels really good. Thanks for the article,Bridge.

12:57 PM  

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