Aging as a woman

Looks like we left Istanbul just in time, although it’s not anywhere near the border and I still believe it’s one of the greatest cities to visit and probably very safe.  Who knows though?  We were in Egypt maybe ten years ago and I never felt very safe there, so glad we went though!  That was just amazing to see the pyramids and the Valley of the Gods.  They seemed more civilized in those times than it is now – it was dusty, smoggy, chaos with horns honking all over the place.  Cairo especially probably took 10 years off our lung lives.  The timing of that trip was a few months before overthrowing their President.  Our timing has been strange regarding some of these travels.  Even 9/11 when my son & I were on that Pentagon crash flight just a few days before.

Again, I don’t want to get into politics on this blog besides saying that we’ve got an 8th grader running our show here which is scary for the whole world.  It wasn’t until I started traveling in my 30’s that I realized the U.S. President is a world leader.

Since returning, there was just enough time to do laundry then pack for L.A. for my H 40th high school reunion.  We’re a year apart and went to the same HS, so I went  to the reunion too.  I stayed down there with my mom for the week, then we flew to Boston for our nieces wedding.  Just got back, I’ve been traveling for almost 2 months now (actually all year).  It’s nice to just be home for once.

Nothing like a reunion and wedding to put a spin on aging women.  There were quite a few single women at the reunion looking to possibly connect again, one is my former SIL.  Her story is typical of many women leaving at empty nest time.  Honestly, I was ready to do the same but was well aware it was a major transition in my life both mentally and physically with menopause looming.  I rode it out, she did not.

The story is the same for us women, you want a companion and a man at that age wants a “wife.”  They have their buddies.  I’ve found there are two groups of men that hit on me, 80+ crowd then younger guys who want you to pay for everything.  Not that I get hit on, just that’s been my observation with friends too.

The reunion was a blast and an eye opener.  There was one woman there who was heavily hitting on a few of my friends who were still married.  Otherwise it was just super cool to hang out with my friends who saved my teenage angst years to really protect me.  We could joke about things that happened 40 years ago up until now.  I’ve been invited to their weddings, store openings, beach house parties.  A lifetime of friendship with both my H & I. These are the people I’ll always feel most comfortable with.

Then the week with my mom before Boston, my mom is the only mom still living in our old neighborhood.  Our friends look after her, she’s now the neighborhood mom and is well loved.  One of her bucket list items was to ride the ferris wheel at Santa Monica pier.  We took off with her handicap placard to get primo pier parking to make that happen.

Now for the wedding….

The wedding itself was so creative and fun.  My niece married her long term partner, it’s the first gay wedding I’ve been to.  We went to a park for a nice ceremony, then to dinner & topped it off with a bowling party.   This is where it really hit home how dismissed women are, especially if you get divorced.

My BIL was there with his GF, a woman he met about a week after they split while walking into the local bar.  That in itself is not a big deal, they were done and actually at the time we were all happy he moved on.  What I didn’t anticipate in all that was the future of being the mom who raised the kids, or how the GF would handle things regarding that.  That just puts a knife in my heart as a mother who stayed home with the kids and a woman in general.  I’m a tomboy for sure, in matters of this kind I’m a girls girl and am horrified at the treatment of my former SIL at the dinner.

Some of it is just how divorce rolls, my parents divorced (thank God) when I was 17.  Events were always tough with the weddings, graduations, grandkid events.  So yeah, there’s always going to be that drama.  This D seemed mutual and amicable? When the GF took her seat at the parent of the bride table I thought it was by my former SIL’s choice?  Turned out it wasn’t, they didn’t even offer for her to sit there or remedy that situation.  The GF got mother of the bride status at the dinner table, a woman who didn’t raise the kids AT ALL.

SIL handled it well (I might have hopped the table and ruined the wedding).

To me the most upsetting part is how replaceable women are, especially as we age.  Our choices are to stay married or go it alone.  A man’s choices are to stay married or have a GF within a few weeks, someone who is more than happy to benefit from all the rewards the first couple worked on together.

I might not have felt this way if she wasn’t excluded from that table, if the GF could just show some respect for the actual mother of the bride.  Unfortunately, women don’t have each others back either.  Men are kind of simple, one woman is gone let me just replace her with another?  Women come in all forms, to the girl at the reunion hitting on the still married men, to the new GF who is somehow totally insensitive to the former W enough to fully replace her (like Game of Thrones), to me – who’s seeing the fallout of my friends  divorces and the reality of the aging woman.

It was a great, eye opening few weeks.  We rushed back for an appointment I had for a biopsy that was just an age related circulation issue.  Instead of the biopsy, I paid for some barnacles to be removed from my back that are age spots.  You never really feel your age.  I’m very healthy, but I am getting old, creeping closer to 60 in just a few years.

I want people to think of me as fun and considerate.  It was pretty funny at the reunion, a few people said they remembered me as this stud volleyball player and not the drunk teenage mess that I actually was.   A decision when I was 23 to stop drinking really altered my path in life.  I believe that I was also so young that it altered my brain chemistry.

No real secrets to aging here besides observations of how it is for women as we age.  My mom never remarried and lived happily ever after, so there’s that too.  I will say this, we are biologically different people going into a marriage (wanting kids) then we are as empty nesters.  After 20 years of caregiving we feel it’s time for “us.”  I don’t think our H like the new “us” and don’t join in on the transition.

In that I’ve been fortunate, my H has supported all my harebrained hobbies and has tried to like participating.  I gotta admit, sometimes I wonder if he’d be happier with a younger version of me?  Then I figure I’d FLIP if a woman came in to enjoy all we worked for together.  I’m kind of a realist, we never think of ourselves as stereotypes – we’d all like to think we’re unique.  Yet in matters of the heart, there hasn’t been any new developments in how people treat each other before, during and after a breakup.

Location of my 6th grade graduation ditch day.

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