New Year’s Eve, 2012.
We went out to dinner with a group of 6 couples, and we had a wonderful time. We went to a pretty happening place, which we don’t really do much anymore. Not that we don’t enjoy a nice evening out, but this place was, well, young (or young-ish). I guess what I really mean is that we are, I suppose, old (or old-ish).
Not that I believe any of us that were at dinner that evening feels particularly old. We’re more or less a healthy, relatively attractive, open-minded and aware group of people. None of us would describe ourselves as “over-the-hill” – except maybe at a place like the one where we spent New Year’s Eve. Because there, everyone was young (or young-ish). Not only were they all young (or young-ish), but at first glance, they all appeared to be gorgeous, too. And not only did they appear to be gorgeous, but they seemed to be very, very happy. I suppose the alcohol they were drinking might have had something to do with that. But hey, it was New Year’s Eve, and we had a few bottles of wine ourselves.
As I said, we had a great time. We laughed, drank, ate, yelled, teased and joked. We acted like people should on the last night of the year – giddy, optimistic, and happy to be alive – especially after 2011. I mean, could it have been any crazier? The world is falling apart, earthquakes are leveling the planet, the revolution by the 99% has begun, and of course there’s the economy…but for the evening, we forgot about all of that.
After midnight, when the ball had dropped, the kisses were shared and the champagne was sipped, we went back to the bar, where there was now dancing. Well! At that point, I have to tell you, I began to feel a wee bit old – not even old-ish. It was late, I was the designated driver, and these young (and young-ish) people were still going strong. And not only that – the women were doing it in mini skirts and 5 inch heels, which made their legs look a million miles long. I didn’t belong there…my 21 year old daughter did. But we stayed for a while, some of us dancing, some of us not, and as soon as we left, I didn’t feel old (or old-ish) at all – I felt just fine.
I wouldn’t trade places with any of the young or young-ish for anything in the world. Though I am weeks away from turning 50, and my camera tells me I’ve blinked in nearly every photo I take (even when I haven’t…), in spite of the fact that I was by far one of the oldest people in that restaurant – I would never want to be back there again. I was young – and even young-ish – for a long time. I wore mini skirts and high heels and looked pretty good in them, too. I danced all night, drank too much, looked for hot guys and had a lot of great, wild, fun times.
I remember it all with a laugh and a sigh, because young and gorgeous is great, but old-ish and loved is better. Having dinner that night with our dearest friends, some of whom we’ve known for 18 years, nearly all of us at the point in our lives where raising our children is over and we are, once again, just us – it honestly doesn’t get much better than that. We are, in some ways, as carefree and unencumbered as those young (and young-ish) folks just starting out as adults – there’s a lot ahead of us, much of it a mystery and, hopefully, most of it an adventure.
Being old-ish, like I am, like we all are, gives a perspective on things that can only be learned through years of living. There is no friendship in the lives of those beautiful young people comparable to the ones I’ve had with my friends with whom I’ve shared the journey of child raising, marriage-keeping, aging, and all of the ups and downs that come with the many years we’ve lived. There is no sense of accomplishment those who are young-ish can possibly understand like the one I feel having been married – mostly happily – for 22 years, and having raised two wonderful kids. And, no matter how beautiful, long-legged and high-heeled those young (and young-ish) people may be, I don’t envy them in the least – because I know that what lies ahead of them – the good, the bad, the painful, the beautiful – it will change them, just as it did me. And though it’s all been worth it, every tear and smile, every fear and joy, it’s been hard work, too – and now that I am old-ish, it’s nice to be able to, for the most part, just relax a little.
Because the truth is, those high heels can be really painful, and even though your feet hurt, and you really want to sit, it’s difficult to do so in a mini. I don’t want to wear uncomfortable shoes, and I don’t want to work that hard ever again.