Thursday, January 26, 2012

betty jean






























i'm going to seattle this week to spend some time with my grandmother while my aunt is out of town. she is one of my favorite people in the world. i know a lot of her stories by heart, featuring characters such as ole man jackson and betty diamond. she wouldn't be caught dead without her lipstick. she taught me how to have a winning smile (put your tongue behind your teeth when you smile - try it!) when i worked at coach in new york, i always joked that she would make a great PR intern. she loves to talk on the phone and read gossip mags and she is always snacking/talking about her diet. exactly what the nineteen year old interns do. betty jean is truly one of a kind. she made me realize that old(er) people can't believe they have aged. she tells stories of the ladies at bingo and refers to them as 'old bags' - she isn't one of them. she seems genuinely shocked that the mirror reveals something other than her twenty year old self. i'm starting to see glimpses of this, usually when i'm looking at the urban outfitters catalog. i don't belong here. this doesn't mean i'm old, it just means that i'm graduating. i read a great personal history in the new yorker yesterday that summed up how old might feel.

"however alert we are, however much we think we know what will happen, antiquity remains an unknown, unanticipated galaxy. it is alien, and old people are a separate form of life. they have green skin, with two heads that sprout antennae. they can be pleasant, they can be annoying -- in the supermarket, these old ladies won't get out of my way -- but most important they are permanently other. when we turn eighty, we understand that we are extra terrestrial. if we forget for a moment that we are old, we are reminded when we try to stand up, or when we encounter someone young, who appears to observe green skin, extra heads, and protuberances." - donald hall

what a challenge to observe our elders as they were while they are. i want to try and be better at seeing them. and hopefully, when it's my turn, i will be seen as well.

7 comments:

  1. this is sweet. and, your grandmother is oh-so-cute.

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  2. That photo makes me wanna drive to Seattle... and it makes me wish I could still visit my Grandmothers there.

    Kacie

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  3. my great grandmother once told me that she still felt the same way she did when she was 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 and younger...the only time she knew she wasn't as young as she felt was when her body reminded her of it

    the older I get the more I understand this

    enjoy your time with Betty Jean

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  4. She sounds like such a special lady -- enjoy this week together. This is very a poignant post. I think about growing older often, and what it must feel like-- especially since becoming a mother myself. I have that new yorker on my night stand now, looking forward to reading this in print.

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  5. beautiful post. You write so wonderfully. How lucky you are to have your grandmother. I miss mine dearly. I hope my mind always stays young, too ;)

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  6. You've brought up a wonderful topic, and stated it perfectly. You've left a lot of room for thought. I remember my mother in her 40s, telling me that people had stopped "seeing her", and I thought it was such a strange and random observation at the time, because to me she was still so young and vital. Now, in my own 40s, I don't feel invisible - but I think that's a factor of the times. Many of us are married later now, have children later, and as a result our years are a bit more nebulous. In this day and age (thankfully) a woman's power is not entirely dependent on her fertility, but also on the paths she chooses and on the progress of her accomplishments. Still, my mother remains my example in the journey of aging. In her 70s, she is an adventurer and an athlete, an artist and a still girlishly infatuated with her "boyfriend" of thirty years. She has never had plastic surgery, wears boyish clothes and doesn't wear makeup. But she is timeless, and never seems anything less than vibrant and full of energy. I aspire to that. I aspire to never worrying about the standards, the devices of beauty, or how people see me. I'm not there yet, but that just means I have more to learn. Thanks for the food for thought.

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  7. thank you for your wonderful comments. maia, your mother sounds like a great role model for all of us!!

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