I love that as I get older, I learn to see the humor in situations that I wouldn’t have seen years ago. I have (and I would argue many of us have) the fantastic power to flip a frustrating situation into a comical story and ultimately a funny memory to share with others later.
Let me give an example. I was on an airplane to London. My husband was up in business, and I was back in economy seating. I felt like I was on a Seinfeld episode I saw years ago: Elaine is stuck in the back of the plane with no food and terrible seatmates, and Jerry is in business class eating ice cream with a model.
I was Elaine, only with a horrible headache that put a damper on my whole mood. As I saw the eager couple coming down the aisle toward me, I was hoping they weren’t my future seat mates. But silly me. Of course, they were. They were super vivacious and the type of people that were so busy enjoying and enlarging their personal space that they ate up mine. Like a tiny tornado, they whirled around me arranging their luggage in the overhead bins and tossing carry-on pieces in the seats. Once they situated themselves as comfortably as they could in our cramped seating, off came the shoes and out came the London guidebook. Their first language wasn’t English, and I know this because they spoke to each other. Very. Loudly.
I wanted to scream.
But I didn’t. Because suddenly the absurdity of the situation hit me, and I wanted to giggle. What were the odds? So many quiet people on the plane, and me and my aching head got to sit by them. On top of that, the enthusiasm, preciseness, and clarity with which they spoke reminded me of a foreign language instructor tediously teaching students pronunciation. I soon found myself fascinated as I listened to the cadence of their voices dramatically rise and fall.
It was incredibly frustrating, but I couldn’t NOT see the humor in it.
And as I age, I find myself doing this more and more: realizing along with everyone else that the richness of life is not made from not just the happy situations, but the sad, angry and incredibly irritating situations (the makings of entertaining dinner stories). Some people describe it like a song – the highs and lows make the melody interesting, and similarly make the hours interesting, the days interesting – and the whole experience of aging interesting.
I believe people give off a fragrance - one that is beyond anything biological (or the scrumptious scented beauty products they are wearing). I’m meaning more of a mixture of their attitude, facial expressions, and emotions that seems to conglomerate into one giant eau de perfume: a personal fragrance that says "howdy" (I'm a Texan) before I even have a chance to really greet the person or take in the physical appearance. (I would argue that it's more powerful than physical appearance.)
My parents tried to instill this idea in me while I was a little girl – but I just didn’t get it. I saw someone beautiful, and I could not move past the beauty. It might be the artist in me. But the point is, I excused poor behavior because he/she was so beautiful. A beautiful girl was just sassy. A handsome guy with a bad attitude was just moody and mysterious. Unfortunately, this thinking greatly limited me in how I saw the individual as opposed to how she or he really was.
The freeing thing about our “fragrance” is that it’s really what makes people attractive. Now when I meet a friend, I see her, but physical features sort of take a back seat. Instead of only seeing the physical appearance of my friend, her attitude and mood and speech is really what grabs me first. I see my friend, but I also see what makes her, well, her; a tiny film of all the memories we have shared, all the conversations we’ve had, all the good times (and the bad) play through my mind in a flash overtaking my emotions and senses and ultimately my view of her. And it overcomes me – just like a spritz of potent perfume.
And as I’ve aged, I see that a pretty outfit or a new hairstyle can’t erase history because the physical beauty of someone becomes incredibly secondary and their personality and how they’ve made me feel – past and present – is what takes the center stage and makes them beautiful (or not) in my eyes. It’s a dimension of attractiveness that defies the physical and embraces the unseen. It’s a satisfying facet of beauty that anyone can possess, and it won’t fade with age.
One of the perks of getting older: I can light candles in my home whenever I so choose.
While I was growing up, candles were for special occasions in our house. My sister and I could be two very lively little girls. I regularly danced in my room and about the house. I was also pretty clumsy; I remember growth spurts where I would continually bump my elbows and knees, like I wasn’t sure what to do with the extra yardage that was me. Bumping and spilling, scraping, knocking over: all activities I experienced on a daily basis.
It was a wise choice that my parents lit few candles and kept them closely monitored.
Candles were reserved for celebratory meals or birthday cakes or to make a power outage just a bit cozier. They were to be taken seriously though: adults always lit them until my sister and I were “adult enough” to strike the match (with shaky fingers) and produce a flame. Then we would all enjoy the immediate change in atmosphere, as the soft flame flickered like a tiny star we had captured in a room.
But now that I’m older and my dance moves are contained (sometimes), and I have matured (which I hear is relative) and can safely light a candle and extinguish it, I enjoy candles with vim and vigor. Being somewhat in control of my little kingdom (aka my home), I love having the soft flame of a candle near me as often as possible. I keep them sporadically throughout the rooms like some people do their houseplants.
I imagine for some people, it’s like using a linen napkin with their meal vs. a paper towel. It’s a little bit of personal luxury that changes the atmosphere; I think it’s because my parents used them for special occasions, when I light one, the atmosphere automatically feels a little special.
As I age, I continually realize small actions (like striking a match) really have the power to change the environment I find myself in. Maybe it's the part of me that likes control. But no matter the case, with age comes power, and I intend to use it, to manipulate the atmosphere around me, and (if a candle is lit) enjoy its glow.
When I was little, every Sunday afternoon it happened: my parents took a nap.
I dreaded it. To begin with, I seriously disliked naps. To my young “I have free time” weekend mindset, they were such a time waster, and when I did take one, I typically woke up feeling groggy. On Sundays, my parents never forced me to snooze along with them, so my other option was to play quietly. And I tried. I really did. Yet I typically managed to produce noise: somehow, someway, I would cause jolting sound that would wake one of my parents up and subsequently find myself in trouble.
Once the atmosphere transformed into prime slumber mode, it was if my parents could suddenly hear my bones moving. Once the fan came on (a nice white noise), it was as if their whole bodies became auditory. Walking around was even risky. And as I grew older and the parental napping continued, I would delude myself into thinking I could perform daring feats –Like fix myself a snack of cheese and crackers – without making so much as a peep. How naive was I to think I could silently open a package of saltines?? (Is that even possible?) How did I believe I could noiselessly get into the fridge with a GIANT suction seal to retrieve cheese?? Fueled by determination, I would try.
My sister seemed immune to my problem. One time she dropped an entire milk shake down the flight of creaky hardwood stairs and cleaned it up without my Mom waking. I still recall her proudly sharing what happened in hushed tones, and we had to muffle our laughter. What a pro.
However, now that I’m older, I feel like a traitor to myself, albeit a happy traitor because:
I. love. naps.
And it’s not just that I’m “okay” with them. I find them to be one of the great little luxuries in life. I revel in a good curl up: wrapping that cozy blanket around me like a hug, giving in to that tired feeling, closing my eyes, and drifting to sleep. Oh yes. I’m quite smitten.
Even with years of napping under my belt, I am still amazed today that my tastes morph and continue to morph so dramatically. And that is what I find fascinating about aging – how eagerly I embrace or give up activities that I loved or hated when I was younger. I even my find myself excited to observe how my tastes transform as I continue to age; it adds variety to life, and since it’s a welcome change, it’s like being thrown a curve-ball (by yourself and at yourself) without all the drama.
Creator of Love, Auntie.