Dropping the Sword

Throughout my life I have been given mountains of predictions from my elders. From my grandmother to Frank Salazar, many people have graced me with little pearls of wisdom about what it's like to get older. While I appreciated this for the most part, I always filed their insights away in a directory called, "The Distant Future", but more and more, I find myself referring back to them...

It's almost as if there was a fame demon who took possession of me at the age of 13. We played a game of cat-and-mouse for 43 years that was fun, exciting, frightening, exhilarating and heartbreaking... sometimes simultaneously. In recent years, however, I began to feel like Don Quixote just slashing at windmills and I've at last arrived at a place where I've dropped my sword and wondered, "WTF?"

My mother accurately predicted that someday I wouldn't be able to wear my beloved signature black turtlenecks because the feeling of tightness around my neck would irritate me. My grandmother said that all the dressing up would get old and a daily commitment to wearing comfortable clothes, not putting on makeup, and not bedecking myself with jewelry would win out. Frank told me that we come to place in life where we just have to eliminate the clutter, both internally and in our personal environment. My father philosophized about the simple joy of puttering around the home and garden stores.

Where for many, many years I dreamt of a life of premieres, awards, parties, and red carpet media attention, I'm now dreaming of sitting at a favorite sidewalk table enjoying a coffee and people-watching. Instead of stepping over my star on the Walk of Fame, I now look forward to walking a dog. While I once imagined being asked for autographs by strangers, I'm happy with private parties with a few close friends who understand and care about me.

Perhaps the fame demon ages as we do, or maybe he just leaves to find a jugular with a stronger pulse. Whichever it is, I'm happy to be rid of his grip and I finally understand my father's words, "When you're older, being content isn't such a terrible thing."

Still, it's become a habit of mine on Friday afternoons to wax nostalgic over the weekends of my 30s when friends came over unannounced, bearing cheap snacks and boxes of wine. I loved the impromptu nature of my life back then, but let's face it. They're now older than I was then. I live in a different state and the world is a very different world than it was then. Life has gotten more serious. At least that's how it feels sitting in the smack middle of the country, far away from any hint of the bohemian lifestyle. Even young people here are so.bloody.serious. Life is more about working, breeding and fitting in with a prescribed status quo than it is about making one's life their work of art. Of counting for something larger than the paycheck, sixpack, and pickup payment.

I am of a dying breed, I fear. There is no room in our modern, confoozled America for artful living. Life has gotten too hard. I really belong in Europe and if I could somehow manage it, that's where I'd be.