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Older and Younger, Celebrating Ourselves
I've written about it here before, but I'm always inspired by it and so will use this entry to blog about our most recent "Adirondyke Weekend." My lovely friend and retired IBM colleague, Carol, and her partner of 38 years, Carmen, started it 13 years ago and we've been coming for 11 of the years, virtually since we moved to this region from Illinois.
In the saloon near Lake George, where we were dancing with 138 other lesbians last night, Gloria Gaynor's voice blasted, "At first I was afraid; I was petrified....I will survive...." One friend, who had survived breast cancer more than five years ago approached another, who had more recently survived it, plus some related scares and said, "They're playing our song." They began dancing together and I simply shuffled alongside them, smiling in awe.
Later that evening, one of the cancer survivors and my friend said to me, "It's more and more noticeable that we're getting older."
"What are you thinking about specifically?" I asked.
"Well, that our friends, Blank and Blank, couldn't come because one is lately suffering from what might be dementia --"
I agreed that it was tragic, as the woman had been super-lively -- downhill-skiing into her late-70s during the winter weekends and always vibrant on the dance-floor. On the lighter end of the conversation, we talked about how dying our hair wasn't something that either of us planned to do, no matter how gray we became.
In parallel this weekend, one of the celebrants was ~20 years younger than we were and still had ruddy cheeks and even what looked -- by comparison to our faces -- like a bit of residual baby-fat.
What would it be like to be that age again? All weekend, as I observed most of us, looking and behaving our real, and former, ages, I thought about how less-well-developed I appeared when I was the young woman's age.
On the way home, I returned a phone call to one of my dearest friends, who told me that she had been to her 20-year college reunion this weekend. She said, "It made me recall what I was like back then, and how the college only provided a great, intellectual experience, but didn't help me become a whole person."
"It's funny that you had that experience because I met a young woman this weekend, who took me back to my college days, too. Just like me at that age, she was working on resolving her sexual orientation and yet was so mature in the rest of her world-view."
"We need to get together in person and talk more about this. I do have to go to help [her daughter] with an important homework assignment...." God, she has a middle-school-aged daughter already...which was the age we were when we were closest friends.
At the saloon, last night on the dance-floor, in addition to our dancing with each other, Pat danced salsa and meringue with Carmen while later, I had my standard couple of '80s-song, fast dances with our friend, who's my identical age, and who went to high school during the same pop-songs. I'm always thrilled to dance with her because I pretend that we're back in high school and that we're dancing with each other then...and that it's no issue.
I've told her this more than once and she always has smiled generously. Last night, for the first time when we sat down, I asked her, "Did you go to dances in high school, and if so, did you go in groups or with boys?"
"I just went in groups," I said, feeling uncool compared to her. "Did you go to your proms?" I asked.
"I wasn't invited to mine," I said barely audibly and felt like a reject all over again. I wished I hadn't asked her, and hadn't spoiled the pretending.