It’s the decade when lots of things change.
“The fifties are the revenge of the flat-chested woman,” my petite friend stated over coffee. I am not a flat-chested woman; not stacked, ever, but I had cleavage in my late teens when it counted. I was complaining to her about drooping.
My friend is one of those long-term buddies — bosom buddies one could say — because we shared so much. Our kids were in pre-school together, got into fisticuffs on the school bus, were adolescent miscreants together. She and I shared weepy 2 a.m. telephone calls.
This summer, my son will reciprocate as best-man at her son’s wedding. Over the years, we became friends, too, sharing more than our boys’ escapades.
In our fifties, we were often between jobs, meeting at coffee shops. We discovered we didn’t do well with B.S. anymore, and were each assertive (or stupid) enough to say so to our bosses.
She had a career in sales, mine was in human services. Our nests were empty, our opportunities wide open. We had romantic adventures. We were both a bit late to the menopause party, but I won the prize as far as longest-running almost at menopause woman I knew.
Adipose tissue retains estrogen. I had both.
The nurse practitioner looked like she was sixteen but was clearly old enough to be an NP. She had a shocked expression and couldn’t compose a neutral face. “I have to get my medical director,” she said.
The medical director assured her that a 55-year-old woman could still need birth control and not have any health issues. “You are outside our usual demographic,” the medical director noted, looking down at her clipboard.
I needed birth control because, well, I was an empty nester and had rediscovered unemployment lead to afternoon delight, and delight at other times of day. I was past embarrassment or earnest questions about life plans. My ten-year-rollicking romance was wonderful.
My friend and I each had career pivots. She works for herself in marketing. I got a master’s degree and maximized my retirement savings in a higher-paid job.
I know some women struggle through menopause and their fifties. The fifties’ decade was a rip-roaring “me” decade after the stressed devotion of single parenting. It was great.
While some parents struggle with the empty nest, I was glad to gain a guest room and guests to put into it. Late adolescence had been a struggle for my kid, and me, and we were ready for a break. He took a year at community college, before heading west and taking on outdoor adventure and higher learning.
I bought a pipe and acquired a small stash, and got some old papers out of a shoebox in the closet. It sorta felt like trading places.
States were legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and I was beginning to get creaky joints. I didn’t become a pot-head. A pothead had not been my thing, but smoking occasionally was more pleasant than aspirin and longer-lasting than a glass of pinot noir. It was also nice to share.
I have moved to retire across the country, in a milder climate — oh, and my grandchild lives here.
My friend’s son came to visit, recently, and we all had dinner.
“How is your mom?” I asked.
“Great!” he said. “She is very spry!”
“Spry” is not one of those adjectives you apply to 20-year-olds. One applies that adjective to one deemed over the hill by those still climbing the hill. But I guess spry works.
“Give her my best. I have to call.”
And I’ll tell her this story and we’ll laugh, just like old times.