Monday, November 29, 2010

In Celebration of Older Chicks

“It’s not like the old days.”

I used to hear that a lot from one of my old bosses, back when I was practicing law. Richard was a master of the side-step, so it was a suitably vague phrase, but his intent was usually pretty clear. “Move along,” he meant. “Get with the program. No use bitchin’ about the way things used to be.” An admonition with a dollop of lament on the side.

But in a different context, “it’s not like the old days” is an affirmation and a challenge.

Back in MY old days–at least where I grew up–middle-aged women didn’t climb icefalls, run marathons, shoot rapids, ski glaciers, bomb down rocky cliffs on tricked-out mountain bikes or rocket around banked tracks on bicycles with fixed gears and NO BRAKES. They didn’t bloody their hands working crack-intensive toprope problems or shred the glades at Breckenridge. They sure as hell didn’t surf. Or base jump.

Not that the middle-aged ladies of the last century didn’t have fun. My grandmother loved a good canasta game. My mom played bridge and, on rare occasions, a round of golf. The Altar Society meetings were good for a laugh and a bit of gossip. And who could forget that Friday night sexy/cool Man From U.N.C.L.E.? Ahhh, it was a quieter time.

Not now. A generation of women are unselfconsciously kicking ass as (peri)menopausal adventurers and athletes. All the more amazing when you realize that a lot of us (especially the pre-Title IX crowd) didn’t discover “sports” until later in life.

If you’re one of those women, tell me what you’re doing. Send me a link, a photo, a video. I want to share your awesomeness.

If you’re in the demographic–or even just tiptoeing up to it–and you haven’t even TRIED anything terrifying yet, ask yourself: Why not? Maybe you don’t have the money, maybe you don’t have the time, maybe you’re raising your grandchildren instead of enjoying reproductive retirement. These are legit roadblocks, but they can be nudged in the name of adventure, IF you want it badly enough.

I count myself one of the lucky ones because I found the fun before it was too late. So what if I’m 55 and my knees are falling apart and every sixth hair is coming in gray and I wake up five times a night hot/wet/freezing and I can’t read a map or a menu in low light or remember much of anything? That just means I’m old enough to appreciate what I can still do. Every run, every ride, every pitch is another little miracle.

Not like the old days, indeed

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