Something gets lost in birthday celebrations between 8-80. Anticipation can turn to dread. Excitement can fade. Parties can seem self-indulgent and contrived.
My husband turns 80 tomorrow. To say that he’s not happy about it is an understatement. If our family had permitted it, he would ignore the changing of the decade. But we all concluded easily that he must celebrate and that we must unite behind the celebration.
He put me off more easily than he could our daughters. I soon gave up the challenge of getting him to yes. Our daughters seemed not to have too hard of a time getting him to agree to something “small.” Thankfully, they took over the planning and he cooperated. He likes to make them happy.
I’ve had a small journey of my own wrapping my head around the reality of my husband becoming 80. Despite all the euphemisms and nonsense such as The Golden years, You’re only as old as you think you are and Just like fine wine, you grow better with the years.
I’m hoping this experience will be good preparation for me when I round the corner myself in a few short years. I will want to celebrate. Maybe if I start dieting now, I’ll be able to wear a size 8 dress and everyone will remark, You don’t LOOK 80! Continue reading “the Big Eight Oh!”→
The photographs of my life huddle together in the darkness, secure in a bedroom cabinet. They now lead quiet lives, disturbed only occasionally. They once brought only pleasure to me and upon inspection, wonder. Now going through them brings a quotient of sadness too. The scale began to tip about 10 or 15 years ago. Their nearby presence exerts an energy that often tempts me to pay them a visit, but one that I usually resist. It’s a bottomless journey, that once begun leads down a road that’s too nostalgic. It invariably leads to sad emotions that I’d prefer to not indulge. It does show a rich lifetime of family times, travel, holidays and joyful events. The photos allow me to visit people who were once an important part of my life, now no longer available for one reason or another or sometimes for no reason I can state. They just faded away.
Were my eyebrows really once that full and dark? Gazing at a photo of myself holding my infant children in my arms, I can still feel my daughter’s softness and inhale her sweet baby scent. Those sacred pleasures vanished too quickly. Pangs of times passed too quickly and unconsciously. Another photo yields a glance of smiling faces at a school graduation. That was long ago, when there were more beginnings and a door closed meant that another door would soon be opening.
Yesterday, I uncovered a long-lost photo of my mother in her 20’s with a man other than my father. She and her gentleman friend looked very happy. I remembered her telling me many years ago that this man was her boyfriend before she met my father. They were close to engagement. And then they weren’t. The road not taken, but still present in my stash of snapshots. Does the gentleman still have a photo of my mom that his children puzzle over?
There are so many photos! My short-term attempts at organization have always run out of steam. I can never throw out enough of them to even make a small dent in their number. Now they lay, slightly deteriorating by the day, in boxes, albums, and stacks. They give testament to a life and youth gone by. They recall young children, departed relatives, exciting trips to Europe and Japan, important birthdays, a long-lost pet. I want to bring them to life, if only for a brief visit.
I almost gasp when looking at photos of a long-ago party at my house, celebrating the visit of Doug Elkins Dance Company in 1998. Everyone was sooo young and so drunk.
I found a photo of my mother with her arms around two of my daughters, probably taken 40 years ago. They all looked relaxed and happy. This photo brought me joy because my mother hated to have her picture taken, consequently, I have few photos of her where she seems happy and looks the way I want to remember her. She died of Alzheimer’s so my last memories of her are painful to recall. This photo helped me make her real and healthy again. The image is now on my desk and in my heart.
Thousands of digital photos sit right under my fingertips at my computer’s keyboard. They’re so easily accessible, and visited more frequently. They’re available for immediate recall and better organized. I imagine that my grandchildren will have no boxes of photos to store.
Once again there came the time to put these memory capsules back in their cupboard. After writing about them this time, I lovingly put them away, and even managed to feel happy.
If there was a competition for the world’s cleanest country, I have no doubt that the Japanese would win it hands down, or clothes off.
We just visited the venerable Kinosaki Onsen about a two hour train ride from Kyoto on the West Coast. We traveled with two of our grandchildren, uncertain whether or not they would be up for naked bathing in a crowd. One bravely ventured in and the other declined for the obvious reasons.
The self consciousness that American women feel about their bodies is no where evident in a Japanese bath. It’s liberating.
It took me years to get to the point where I too am not self conscious. Maybe it was just a question of letting go of my foolish pride in my younger dancer’s body. Of course it all passes sooner or later, so to expect otherwise is just a delusion. At some point I realized that no one gives a damn what I look like without clothes other than myself. Bodies come in all shapes sizes and conditions and here there is no judgement by other bathers. If there is, I don’t detect it and cannot understand Japanese, so it’s not an issue!
I have come to accept and be grateful for my relatively functional aging body as is at this time in my life.
The canal running through town is bordered by willow trees just leafing out, and festooned with cherry trees, illuminated at night. The iconic scene is punctuated by the high Japanese bridges periodically crossing the river.
KInosaki is an old onsen town that has 7 public baths. I’m not sure how the Japanese go from bath to bath to bath because I’m happily cooked well done after one round of bathing. Nevertheless, visitors in small groups of families or friends. promenade in their yukata(cotton bathrobe) through town, clip clopping in their geta sandals on the stone sidewalks, visiting one onsen after another. The sounds lend a timeless sound track to the setting.
Visiting Kinosaki Onsen makes for an enjoyable getaway and a dip into another facet of Japanese culture not to be missed nor forgotten.
I thought it would be interesting to get a different take on Japan than mine from my 12 year old granddaughter. When she agreed to blog, I thought she was just being accomodating, but sure enough, she wrote as a guest blogger.
My Obsession With 7-Eleven
By Lulu Marsetti, Age 12
My name is Lulu Marsetti and I have a slight obsession with 7-Eleven. This past week I have been in Kyoto, Japan. The first couple of days I stayed in my grandparents apartment, Right around the corner from a 7-Eleven. It was awesome. And let me just say that Japanese 7-Eleven is not the same as American 7-Eleven. The first day, we went down to check it out. I took one look at it and went: “OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING.” Then I proceeded to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. “Look at this! Look! Wow! OH MY GOD! AAAAAAH!” I ran over to look at the breakfast section and then… I spotted them. Pre-packaged PANCAKES! “Wow!” I thought to myself, “I have never seen anything like this!” I grabbed them along with a small bag of fruit cocktail and a milk tea in a carton. I brought them back to the apartment and ate in silence.
P.S. Let me add that this was the first of MANY trips to our neighborhood 7-Eleven!
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer
There are so many kinds of friends we make in a lifetime. Many come and go for many reasons. A special few remain with us for a lifetime.
We have made a most wonderful friend here in Kyoto. Matsuzaki Katsuyoshi is a splendid artist; a sculptor who transforms inanimate stone into spiritual omamori, in this case, he carves small deities whose gentleness, and kindness provides protection for its owner. I have come to think his sculptures radiate his own spirit of kindness. I have several at the entrance to my home who greet me daily as I enter and leave. Now I have one to watch over our apartment in Kyoto.