Sleep. Coffee. Write. Plan. Walk. Look. Walk. Look. Walk. Eat. Good day.
The first order of business apparently was to sleep. Too tired to read at 10:00 Sunday night, it was lights out. Alarm went off at 5:30. Well, no. On a regular life day, seven hours of sleep works. On a vacation life day, it's never enough. What's up with that? I woke up again at 7:30 in the Brooklyn brownstone I'm calling home for now.
Coffee from a french press or bialetti were my options. I have every coffee making device one could ask for at home and I'm currently in a french press phase. But this bialetti is the big one and I wanted to try it out. I liked it. Two mugs later, it was time to write a little and plan a lot. I finished yesterday's blog post and set out to plan my day. Pretty chilly out, so no big hurry. Rain in the forecast, but didn't look imminent.
On the list:
South Oxford Street between Layfayette and DeKalb for what is reputed to be some of the most beautiful architecture in Brooklyn. Pratt (Art) Institute to see its entire campus-turned-sculpture-garden. Greenlight Bookstore. Feliz, a shop with handmade artisan wares, which I had to take back off the list since it's not open on Monday. And Dosa Royale for lunch; a good idea until I got there late in the afternoon and saw it too is closed on Monday.
I started by walking several blocks in the wrong direction. GPS is amazing but works better when a) you know which way is north and b) you're watching the little arrow showing you which way you're walking. If you are directionally challenged like I am, turning off the gps to save battery life and using the directions list only is a very, very poor choice.
By the time I got to Pratt Institute, I had achieved my first 10,000 steps and I know this because my watch was very proud of me. I love sculpture gardens and though this one also masquerades as a campus, I loved it. My feet slow down, my camera comes out. Most of the installations had been in place for decades. Here are a few of my favorites:
From here I found South Oxford Street. The architecture as beautiful as these sculptures. The detail in their facades was intricate. The wood and metal seemed both aged and perfect. The concrete steps up to the doors clean and stoops clear of clutter; lovely small city flower gardens. The maintenance seemed a step above the typical, though the typical in this neighborhood enviable. I kept wishing I could follow someone inside and look around any one of them.
Then Green Light bookstore. This bookstore is noted for its carefully curated inventory and unique small press offerings. I don't think I fully appreciate what goes into this kind of bookshop, but I still wandered around in it for 30 minutes.
I realized I was hungry. Dosa was just down the street. But alas, Dosa was closed. I walked home in the just beginning rain. Went back out a bit later for Indian food around the corner. The food was good but I don't think the owner was very impressed with my small order for an early supper. I tipped 40% of my bill to bring the grand total to $14. I'm guessing he still wasn't impressed.
Good night Brooklyn.
Bucket List Travel. Go.
Having been estranged from this blog for a while for reasons not any more interesting than work and travel and minutiae of life, I've decided to take the opportunity of an extended visit to New York to rekindle our relationship. This trip is from my bucket list. A bold move to take three weeks away from work and briefly embed in life as a New Yorker. Staying in a lovely apartment in Brooklyn, I am ready.
6:00 a.m. Wake up in Nashville. Feel pretty good. Slept well, not always the case before a trip. Part of a good vacation means not having a flight requiring me to be up and out before daylight. It makes me grumpy. Today's flight leaves at 11:30. Yay.
Coffee. Feed the cats. Bring up last load of laundry from dryer...towels for the friend who will be staying at my house. Run dishwasher. Finish big note for Jonathan. Shower. Dress. Grab final things for suitcase. Ben comes to pick me up for airport at 9:30. I'm a little concerned yesterday's marathoners will be crowding the airport, so allowing a little extra time.
Airport busy but I checked in online yesterday and am TSA pre. Got bags checked and through security in about 15 minutes. Yay. Settled in at my gate and worked on editing Journey to Peace with Aging--part 7, the one piece of writing I am still accomplishing, though slowly.
Flight was without incident. I almost never chat with my seatmates, but this time I slid into the middle seat next to a young woman...artist/painter/glass blower...who was headed out on an adventure far more daring than mine. She's headed to work four months on a ship in Iceland. She was exhausted from a few days at Penland School of Crafts in Tennessee followed by a visit with a friend and her new baby in Nashville, but perked up to tell me about her journeys. I don't know her name, but wish her godspeed.
LaGuardia is under construction and the lot for Uber/Lyft requires a shuttle ride right now whereas cabs are a brief walk from luggage claim. The cab ride becomes my first funny story. As soon as my cab driver started moving he said, “Pull up your gps, pull up your gps! There’s very bad traffic the regular way! Find us an alternate route!” What? Yes, it’s true…he did not have his own gps. The funny part is when I pulled it up (which took a minute because my phone had been in airplane mode), it gave us an alternate route involving about 25 turns through an industrial area he’d never seen or driven through before. He kept laughing and saying “This is great! This is great! I’ve never been here before! So much time, this is saving so much time! On the regular route we’d still be so far away…oh my goodness…gps is amazing!”
The apartment. Lovely. I learned in looking for a place that if I was willing to trade being right in Manhattan...which was difficult to give up...I could get two or three times the space for about 2/3 the money. Deciding on Brooklyn was a good choice. The brownstone apartment features a private balcony and rooftop terrace and more than twice the space of where we stayed in Manhattan a few years ago. By dark, I had unpacked (nesting is something I do even if for a 2 day stay) and walked to the grocery for food and beer.
Tomorrow: Fort Greene and locating subway stops!
Part 3: What is a relationship supposed to look like at 59?
Relationships. My relationship history has been, what…successful/not successful? Not unusual? A crooked path? Win some, lose some? I was married for 12 years. For many, the first year can be the most difficult, but for us it was the best. We were crazy poor — he was a graduate student, I was working — and crazy happy. The next few years were good. I did my graduate school thing and we had two babies. Babies change things, mostly I think because everyone’s so brain sucking tired all the time, but still there were few complaints. Then, as happens, we drifted apart and after 12 years, called it quits. The pain of that process was immense even though our divorce was one hundred times easier than most. I soon concluded: a) marriage is hard, b) I wasn’t particularly good at it, and c) I wouldn’t do it again.
There was huge value in being honest with myself about my failings in the relationship. I did not see in the ongoing day to day life of my marriage how poorly we communicated…so cliche, so true…or how uneven the power balance. I took control of almost everything which left us very out of whack with each other. He was more comfortable in the world of academia so I made all the decisions and secured my world exactly how I wanted it. The demise was more complicated than that of course, but it became clear to me that moving forward with other relationships, I would have to pay more attention to the balance of power.
The first post divorce relationship has become the hallmark for what I advise other freshly divorced people not to do. I took it way too seriously as a real relationship. Post divorce relationship judgment is not to be trusted for the most part. I learned that later. I went for opposite man. Not a terrible person, but a terrible decision for me. It lasted longer than it should have because I had also become opposite woman and didn’t take charge for a while, trying to find the right balance. For the record, balance will not fix a mismatched relationship. After that, it was time for a break. I had kids to raise and a demanding job.
Fast forward through some years and false starts the few times I did wade into the world of men. At 49, I decided to give it another try. Resulting from an online post, written late one evening in response to a girls’ night out wine induced challenge, I met a man. We were together for over seven years and it was good. For the first several years of our relationship, we thought we would be life partners. Over time, and more intensely for him, we drifted. We never did live together and perhaps that makes drifting easier? Neither of us had been looking for space sharing or marriage and what we were doing…seeing each other a couple of times a week, hanging out with friends, travelling…was working. Until it didn’t. There was enormous sadness with this breakup, but little drama. We’re still close.
A year after we broke up, we briefly talked about getting back together. At that point, I was good with my life alone. I had re-integrated myself in the world as a single person. In most ways it felt easier. Now, two and a half years later, I wonder about another relationship. I’ve been thinking about it for about six months. Not talking about it, not putting myself out there…just thinking about it. I’m not convinced I want to go there again. I’m not convinced I don’t. In my head, dating at my age looks different than before, even more frightening, even more work. Maybe not. Maybe I’m just chicken.
These are my questions:
How much does the way my body looks (not my body in clothes, my actual unclad body) matter?
As mentioned in part one of this series, gravity has taken a toll. Clothes are as much about camouflage as they are fashion or function. Skirts are longer. Running shorts are now a fashion don’t. My arms aren’t as tank top worthy as I’d like. I can talk all day long about how good relationships are built on so much more than how we look, but I’m not going to pretend this whole aging body thing isn’t at least to some degree, a visual dilemma. Not a concern for the first coffee date, but since we’re grown ups, we know that if a coffee date turns into a relationship, it will be an issue at some point.
Hmm. That probably shouldn’t have been my first question. Seems kind of shallow?
How do people over fifty meet if not online?
I’m pretty sure Tinder isn’t my go to source for dates. Yes, match.com is the most obvious but I’m not crazy about doing the online thing again. I used e-harmony twelve or thirteen years ago and it was a lot of work. The results were meh. I also used craigslist, which I never in a million years would use now. It was worse than meh even then, although I have some weird and oh so funny stories from it. Meeting people online is hard. So, meet up groups? How would I, for example, find the right hiking meet up group? There are about a dozen hiking meet up groups in Nashville. Do I ask on the facebook page the average age and marital status of the regular participants to pick the right one? Church? I don’t go to church. I think magic would be nice. I’d like to put out to the universe to steer an active, healthy, emotionally and financially secure, not needy, artist type my direction. Too much to ask?
I went to a hair stylist years ago who told me once he was so tired of dating, he wished someone would spontaneously appear and say, “hey, let’s agree to be a couple for six months to see if it works.” There are a dozen potential problems with that idea, but in concept I get it.
Is it ok to need as little from another person in a relationship as I need?
I don’t know how to say that without having it sound so weird. When my boyfriend and I broke up a couple of years ago, one comment I made was if either of us ever did decide to go for another relationship, we would be hard pressed to find someone who needed as little from another person as either one of us need. What I mean is, I like being in a relationship, but I don’t have to be; I don’t depend on a relationship for identity. My life is good and I like sharing it with someone, but there aren’t big holes in it waiting for someone to come along and fill. My job can be demanding. I’m committed to my time at the gym. I cook and eat with other neighbors three times a week. I write and want to write more. I make jewelry. I travel. I spend time with my son who lives in Nashville. I get out of town when I can to see my mom and my other son. I want to get more involved in the art community. I have a bucket list that needs attention. I’m not looking for marriage.
Thirty five years ago, I was looking to build a life with someone, write that story together. Isn’t dating at this age a little bit like taking two already published biographies and write a new ending that works for both stories? It can be done, but it’s not as clean as starting with the first chapter.
I thought about avoiding the topic of relationships altogether, but that would be both not transparent and chicken. The purpose of this series, you will recall, is for me to be as transparent as I can be to expose this angst about aging, one topic at a time, with a little humor and hopefully a little grace.
This was first published on medium.com via publishous. If you aren't familiar with medium.com, go look around...a lot of good writing there.
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
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