Wednesday, August 17, 2016
I can’t do this anymore and I don’t mind. I'm as old as I feel and as young as I feel. How I feel changes from moment to moment and it has always been that way for me, for you, for Blossom my dog, for the wild mustang leaping over a narrow gully or peacefully grazing next to his sweetheart. Right now, sitting at my desk, I can summon the sensual, emotional, musical experience of that jump and I’m grateful to the photographer because I also have the image to keep and look at now and then.
In the photo I was 21, a senior at Juilliard, performing Martha Graham’s “Diversion of Angels,” (music by Norman Della Joio,) at Lincoln Center. On the program I was called “The Girl in Red.” I loved dancing that part; I’m smiling now as I write about it, a newly minted 67 year-old. I had a birthday yesterday. With each birthday I feel a little like Alice peering down the rabbit hole. What is being this age like? I want to act like it, I want to be like it.
One of my earliest memories is of telling my friend, Sherry Oviatt, “I know it because I am four and you are only three.” (I don’t remember what the “it” was.) Children are hugely impressed by ages, aren’t they? Well, so are adults, (some more, some less) only they have a funny way of wanting to mask this interest, at least once they reach the middle muddle and beyond. But we do notice. Newspapers reliably give a person’s age, although whether someone accused of burglary is 36 or 38 can’t be all that important can it? If one is famous these days there is no hiding birthdates, no matter what one does to one’s cheeks.
I do have to yell at myself sometimes. Disarray happens as we age and this creepy shame about it is nonsense I say to myself. Sagging, wrinkling, slowing, fumbling, more trips to the doctor, brain farts, having to dress the peasant’s body I always knew was there in my genes are all age-appropriate for me and entirely decent. I intend to continue with dignity. Absobloodylutely.
When I was 21 I wasn’t fearful about sickness or senility, but I was fearful about failure as a dancer, as a lover, as friend, student, and oh, yes, daughter. (I never worried about being a good sister, though. I had that.) Little fears tripped me up incessantly. Cooking baffled me. Around certain people I felt incredibly stupid. I’d always been a bookworm, but there were so many books to go!
And clothes! “I all alone beweep my outcast state,” pretty much sums up how I felt about my wardrobe. I don’t fear failure (having tumbled through my share and surfaced again) and little things rarely trip me up with the kind of terror I’d sometimes experience at 21. I’ve had a wonky heart for years and my mind does befuddle itself, but what the hell? If it goes, it goes, eh? Right now, on this exquisite Wednesday at 11:03 I can think, enjoy, continue to 11:04. Ah, it’s here already…