Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I'm Almost an Old Lady
When Hubby and I vowed to love each other till death do us part about 12 years ago, I know we both hoped we would grow old together.
Only back then, growing old didn't seem like something that would actually happen to us. We were in our early twenties: young, healthy college sweethearts with sharp minds, line-less skin and full heads of hair.
Lately, however, I think my spouse has been starting to think more about what an old version of me will actually be like. It's not the stretch marks or the few silver hairs at my temple that's getting to him though (I don't think...). It's not even the fact that child rearing has addled my brain, making me likely to say "umbrella" when I mean "fork." It's a few of my behaviors that are beginning to make him squirm.
For example, as I blogged yesterday, he found me scattering bird seed on our front walk one evening, and thought it seemed a little Crazy-old-lady-in-the-park. Problem: I really would like to be one of those ladies who brings bird seed to the park. Not one of the people that feeds seagulls at beaches -- those people really are kooky, inviting the winged vermin to attack us all as we sunbathe and eat our picnics as we swim. But a cute little lady in a hat who has a happy flock of robins at her feet and talks to the neighborhood children? Yeah, why not? Bring it on.
Hubby is also concerned about what he calls my Cranky Old Lady behaviors. I have been known, for example, to leave notes on cars in the neighborhood that are parked illegally, or even annoyingly. I've also called the police several times when the whippersnappers in the rental across the cul-de-sac were waking me and my precious children at 1 a.m. Okay, to be honest, they were just waking me; my children sleep like rocks. But Jeff says I'm on a trajectory to become one of those crab apples that informs the H.O.A. that the neighbors' Christmas decorations have been left up two days too long, or the neighborhood kids are scared of if they hit a ball in their yard. He has a point on this one, and I'm trying to reform.
But Jeff's real cause for concern is not just what I will be like when I'm old, but that I'm already acting like I'm old now. Particularly in my hobbies. I am unquestionably dorky in my choice of pass times. I quilt. I make seasonal throw pillows and yo-yo garlands that we don't need. I use words like "fussy cut" and "smock." I have embroidered Bible verses and framed them for our kitchen.
When I first discovered that I was "crafty" early in our marriage, Jeff was on board. A creative person himself, he liked seeing me discover my inner fabric artist. Except on the days when I either a) cut myself with scissors, b) cut an expensive piece of fabric wrong, c) swore at my projects, or d) all of the above.
But now, even on non-injury days, his enthusiasm is waning. I'm forbidden from making any more pillows or place mats. And he makes fun of fabric passion quite frequently. When e-bay ran a TV ad campaign this Christmas about a girl who wanted hip gifts from e-bay rather than another needlepoint throw pillow from Aunt Carla, he was absolutely merciless, as I stitched away on hand embroidered tea towels for all the kids' teachers. Ha ha, he said, you're old Aunt Carla.
Okay, so I'm old Aunt Carla. I get excited about a new set of delectable pearl cotton thread and a card of vintage buttons from the flea market. And I feed birds. And I don't like loud music at 1 a.m. And you know what's cool about getting older -- though I'm still not old? It's being comfortable with my dorkiness, and I do what I like to do no matter how silly it seems to other people.
Because I am a quilter (and let's face it, generally the quilting demographic is a bit older than me, like, by 20 years), I have run across the poem "When I Am an Old Woman," by Jenny Joseph, about how she will wear purple and red hats and not care what anyone thinks of her. Of course, there is whole line of plaques and quilting fabric and red hats patterned after it now, and groups of old ladies go out to tea wearing their red and purple. I shan't do that. But I like the spirit of it. In 35 years, look for me at a park bench in my (not red) hat, feeding birds and doing needlepoint. Hubby may be a bit embarrassed of me, but I think he'll still be there at my side.