Tag Archives: Delaware

Lake Privileges

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Why do we travel? Do the reasons change as we get older?

Years ago, as Young Marrieds, my husband and I mentioned to his Dad and Mom that we wanted to take a trip to Paris, a place we had never visited together.

JP’s Dad asked us:

“Why? Do you have friends in Paris?”

We told him we didn’t know anyone in Paris. Our visit to the famous city would be to sight-see.

He shook his head.

Then why go there? We only go to places to visit people we know.”

I scoffed at my wonderful late father-in-law’s approach to travel. He and my mother-in-law came to the U.S. as immigrants after WWII when they were a young married couple and on the rare occasions when they left our country, they did so only for the purpose of visiting their relatives and friends in Northern Greece or Australia. The thought of booking a trip to go to a fascinating city where you knew no one was incomprehensible to my father-in-law.

I remember once seeing photos after my in-laws had returned from a three-week stay in Melbourne where many of their friends and family from Greece had emigrated. Hundreds of photos. All of people sitting around dining room tables filled with food smiling for the camera. Not a single picture of the city, a nature park or a famous winery.

Norm, if you are up there listening now, I finally understand!

Now – in my Empty Nester/Newish Grandmother Days/WeAreAllGettingOlderFast Days – I see my father-in-law’s point – sometimes it is the people, not the places.

This summer JP and I took two people-driven trips.

The first was a week in a circa 1962 rental house in a beach town on the Delaware coast, a place we have been to many times before, but never to stay together with our daughter, son-in-law, their near three-year-old son and 4 month old baby.

You may think that sharing a house with two little people who wear diapers, require frequent feeding and must constantly be watched is not particularly relaxing. And you’d be right. It was not relaxing.

Memorable instead. To experience all of the familiar seashore sights through the eyes of my oldest grandson. To  introduce him to the big ocean waves (scary), to miniature golf (fun, but why couldn’t he keep the ball at the end?) and to chocolate ice cream with sprinkles (more, please).

And to walk the beach with the baby, to watch him nap in the sea air and to hold him every chance I could.

Sure I did my fair share of diaper duty, dish washing and laundry folding (it’s not really a “vacation” when household chores are part of each day, is it?)  but getting in so much bonding time with the two little guys was worth it. Even if they won’t remember this trip we took together, I will. And for the people, not the sights.

The second trip – which we are still on – as I am writing this – was also people-driven, at least the first half of it. Luck comes in the form of having family who have a lovely house perched on a hillside above a small lake in southern Vermont and invite you to stay there for a few days.

My aunt and uncle’s house faces west to the mountains. We spent lots of time sitting on their deck. Enchanted by the changing moods of the lake, rippled only by the occasional kayaker or paddle boarder. Watching the sun set (I’m not awake when it rises.) Warm days and sweater-wearing nights. Lovely.

We did do a bit of sightseeing – to places I remember from childhood ski trips – to the Vermont country store, snacking at a dairy bar and taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain – and then down via the alpine slide (the slow track.)

But like our week at the beach, the best part of Vermont was the people.

Listening to my aunt and uncle’s stories. Enjoying my uncle’s puns and my aunt’s good cooking. Hearing updates about my cousins and their families. Laughing at familiar foibles.

We stayed for 4 nights – seemed like the right amount of time – and then drove south to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts for a few nights. More mountain views, lakes, charming little towns.

The Berkshires are quite lovely – there is art to see (highly recommend Mass MoCa, contemporary art in a re-purposed factory), nature to enjoy (JP hikes, I read and wait at the bottom of the trail) and places to find with good coffee and interesting food.

But gorgeous as the scenery is in the Berkshires, the second part of our trip after being with family in Vermont seems a bit hollow. Minus the time to spend with relatives, the sights lose a bit of their luster.

My husband and I are having a wonderful time, don’t get me wrong. Any chance to get him away from his hard-charging office to sit in the morning sun on the porch of a bed and breakfast and admire the gardens is welcome. And I particularly relish – as the Empty Nester who stays home with a Still-Working Spouse- spending weekday time together.

I now appreciate my father-in-law’s view of travel. Choosing to fly thousands of miles to visit with family instead of to see kangaroos in their natural habitat. The top ten sights of Paris will always be there (I hope) but family and friends won’t be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1st Grandchild, Aging, Baby Boomers, Empty Nest, Family, Husbands, Travel, Women

Swimming Upstream in The Fountain of Youth

 

Bethany Beach 1977

This June an essay I wrote about my love for the beach was published in Delaware Beach Life magazine. Accompanying the article was a photo of me and my husband enjoying ourselves in the sun at Bethany Beach in 1977 where we shared a summer-house with a group of DC friends in our pre-marriage days.

A friend who saw the article, said she liked it, and then noticing the photo commented: “Wow, you look really young.”

I was 24 years old when the photo was taken. So yes, I was young.

And then she said, “You were so pretty.”

Uh, thanks, I guess, noting her use of the word were.

Yesterday when my DC writers group met – our prompt this month was “jealousy” –  the six of us, women ranging in age from 51 to 65, got to talking about what it means not just to get older, but to look older.  One of us had recently read – and was intrigued by – an article in Time magazine called “Nip. Tuck. Or Else. Why You Will Be Getting Cosmetic Procedures Even If You Don’t Really Want Them.”

Cheery title to read while in the dermatologist’s office for an annual check up, no?

If you are like me and my friend, and you visit the dermatologist once a year to have a complete (and I mean complete) body check-up for skin cancer, there likely comes that part after you put your clothes back on, when the dermatologist says (hopefully) that your skin is cancer-free – and then pointedly asks:

“Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Which in dermatology-speak is code for, are there any non-insurance-reimbursable, highly-overpriced, likely painful, attempted youth restoration procedures I can coax you into?

To which I always want to reply, “Do you have a inexpensive magic wand you could wave over my triple-chin to return it to single-size only?” (thick necks are a genetic blessing passed down to me by my forebears.)

But instead I answer,  “no thanks” and gladly leave the office with my aging skin intact.

Yesterday one of my writers’ group pals challenged the rest of us with the question – if you could, without significant expense or pain, would you want to go back to your face and body looking the way it did at age 35?

I voted “no”, I am content, minus the triple-chin thing, with the way I look, being one of those women who feel I have rightfully earned every single dent, sag and wrinkle.

But that said, I remember – with fondness – those days when I was pretty. And I remember when those days ended, too.

I left a big law firm at age 41 to join a smaller, more collegial one. A new colleague stopped by my office one day to tell me that a friend of his thought I was “hot”. I was thrilled. Being considered “hot” by a respectable male adult I didn’t know at age 41 was great.  While I had been married for 16 years and was sure my husband found me appealing, the word “hot” was not in his typical romantic vocabulary. I was still at the age where I enjoyed getting glances of admiration from strangers when I walked out onto the streets of downtown DC to get lunch each day.

Seven years later, as I was closer to age 50, while walking down the same streets with my then 16-year-old  daughter – who was and still is very pretty – I had to admit that the admiring glances were now directed to her, not to me. I had become just another one of those middle-age, female DC professional women who is considered “well-kept” or “attractive” but never again will she be called “hot”.

And I was – and still am – completely o.k. with that.

When my appearance stopped being the first thing that people noticed about me, it was a relief to no longer feel judged by superficial criteria. So when I bump into women who I haven’t seen in years at the movies or at the supermarket, and their faces resemble shiny, taut, waxen pale apples, I don’t get it. Whatever cosmetic procedure they had, they don’t look younger to me, they just look oddly frozen in time.

Perhaps, as one of my writers’ group friends wrote recently  –  they had, through a series of cosmetic procedures, “hopped on the look-young treadmill and couldn’t get off”?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m vain, I like to look nice, I care about my appearance. The counter on my bathroom sink has its’ full share of moisturizers  and facial oils and I wear sunscreen every day.  Why not try to preserve what I have, or at least enhance the aging gracefully process. Looking good feels good –   but I want to look good for my age.

Years ago I had my own turn looking hot, and it was fun while it lasted. But I have moved on. Let my millennial daughter and her lovely pals enjoy the limelight. Time for me to work only on my inner hotness. Much less costly – and definitely more meaningful for me to maintain.

 

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Filed under Aging, daughters, Husbands, Law firm life, Midlife, Women, Women's Health, Working Moms, Writing