Jean Calomeni is that rare person who speaks as beautifully though her art as through her words. Her words, http://snoringdogstudio.wordpress.com, and her watercolors and illustrations, www.snoringdogstudio.com, are as personal, as authentic and as evocative as the piece you are about to read.
Not a mother, not a grandmother, not a wife, not young, not in a relationship. Nots—lots of nots.
Since I entered my fifties, the nots seem to be gathering like dust motes in the corners of my life. When I was in my 20s, 30s and 40s, I could lay claim to so many things that I WAS. I, like others my age, owned significant attributes: an employee with the promise of promotion, a woman standing in the queue for marriage and children, an age paid attention to, a body that the fashion industry was still selling clothes to, a music industry that still wanted my ears.
For those of us older women who aren’t married, who don’t have children, who aren’t in relationships—who DON’T want to be in a relationship—finding common ground with other women our age is difficult. We’re an odd species of human. We pray that when we enter our name into a raffle, we don’t win the overnight stay for two at the resort. We wish that others would stop asking us if we have children. At least that’s how I feel most of the time.
In my early and mid-fifties, I tried the dating thing again. I tried on the notion of being in a relationship. After a series of abysmal failures at it, I gave up. Men in their early and mid-fifties continued to search for the one, albeit one who is 20 to 30 years younger. Silly fools.
How do you say that being older, single and unattached is a welcome life choice without appearing to others as some kind of freak? A great deal of the time, I do feel like a freak. If you can put yourself into a category or group, people are less likely to notice how different you are. I’m still looking for my group of women, who believe as Katherine Hepburn did, that “women should always have their own address.”
A very odd thing happened at some time in my late fifties. I stopped knowing what I looked like. Now, I no longer have an image that readily comes to mind of my appearance. When you’re a member of some pairing or group—a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a significant other—your identity, physical and otherwise, is relayed to you through the eyes and words of your loved ones. You are given some of your self through them. Frankly, when women like me enter their later years, people just stop taking photos of us. Or, there’s simply no one around to capture our moments.
I discovered my Mac’s Photobooth app the other day. Imagine my fright when, sitting at my computer, I was suddenly staring into my face on the monitor. That’s what I look like? Wow. Note to self: Do not use that app early in the morning.
I feel invisible now, more and more as the years go by. Things happen that I interpret as evidence of my disappearing act. At work, I’m considered to be in the shadow of my career, waiting to retire. When people gather, they talk about their children, their grandchildren, their husbands, their relationships. I can offer up nothing. If I talk about my two Boston Terriers, instead, that only makes me look like an old woman with dogs. I suppose it doesn’t help that I have photos of dogs pasted throughout my cubicle. And I talk about them frequently. And, the other day, I wore a t-shirt to work with the image of a Boston Terrier on it. Fortunately, I can still lord it over that other group, “Women with Cats.”
My past appears to be slipping into some forgotten land. With no one around to remind me of it, do I have to keep re-inventing myself? Do I have to remind people, that I was, and still am, relevant?
So. Here it is. I have to find a place that pulls me out of the shadows, that brings some form back to the outline that I am now. I suspect that place can be found somewhere in my head. I’ll need a flashlight and some snacks, but I’ll get there.
Posted on January 4, 2013. Posted in aging, baby boomers, life over 50, life over 60, women and aging, women over 50, women over 60 | Tagged aging, baby boomers, guerrilla aging, independent older women, it's OK to be older and single, Jean Calomeni, life over 50, life over 60, older and not in a relationship, single older women, Snoring Dog Studio, women and aging, women of a certain age, women over 60 | 23 Comments | Edit