No one has ever accused me of being particularly funny. I can usually elicit a warm, hearty laugh from my husband for my sharp wit, but he never suggested I take my act on the road.
I called him Beau because he was beautiful. When I first saw him, he was little more than a football-sized shape that became more defined as I got closer. A hawk’s beak, a wing half-extended. I stopped the car and walked back to him. He watched me but didn’t budge. I spoke calmly to him. His head swiveled to keep me in sight.
“Perhaps the most revolutionary act for a woman will be a self-willed journey—and to be welcomed when she comes home.”
— Gloria Steinem, “My Life on the Road”
Summer. Why can’t it be ever thus? Birds of every feather on the wing. Morning glories climbing on the trellis, bees and hummingbirds hovering over blossoms. In places like this, part-timers like me are ensconced in our getaway lives, sinking into our passions, painting or writing or sawing wood. Seeing.
There is a certain freedom in being a senior citizen, if you are willing to own up to it. There are the discounts, sure. But there is also the free pass to do what you want, up to a point. I don’t want to go to more than one social event in a day. Was this different a month ago? No. But now I give myself a pass and go to the one I choose.
“How does it feel, Mom?” my daughter asked in a phone call recently. I had to ask what she meant. “Turning 65,” she answered.
Oh. That. I’m not sure. I think about it. The Federal government makes sure of that. I read the Medicare book like a textbook, making margin notes. Using highlighter. The deadline looms like an SAT test.
I picked up scars on the road to enlightenment. I wear gloves now. They were the gloves I use to pilfer japonica berries and forsythia on the roadside. I kept them in the driver-side door pocket, where they fit neatly with my spring-loaded pruners.
Carved from a solid block of wood, oblong like an island and with a small hole in its middle that made it easy to grasp, it had an undulating form and a smooth surface that darkened with age and handling. In my world it had existed before me and it followed us from home to home, apartment to loft.
I still have them, tucked away in boxes and files labeled “Cards & Letters.” The handwritten envelopes addressed to Miss Cassie Collins, in my Aunt Rose’s perfect Palmer Method penmanship or my Grandfather’s shaky hand still pop up now and then in a drawer of this-and-that, having failed to make it to the files.
You are three years old, sitting between your mother and father on an airplane. It is summertime and you are going to visit your aunt and your big cousin in New York. For now, Mami and Papi are your whole world.