I’m a different kind of sixty. While I post the requisite grandbaby photos on facebook, along with a few dog and cat videos, flora and fauna pics (mostly to maintain relevancy with my home base), I don’t quite fit the sensible stereotype of the aging woman. And while I look and dress like the fashionable, older, white woman—nothing too high, too low, too gaudy (although my hair under certain light is decidedly lavender), I like to take risks in my life and in my writing. I have few filters, I like to stir the pot and write about a different kind of woman at age sixty, one like myself.
I write thoughtful memoir and an occasional piece of poetry. I write humorous essays, irreverence a strong suit. I write short stories, I write about life in Key West, my love of marijuana and profanity, I write about sex. Your sex life didn’t die because your husband did! You are fucking alive, woman! I like to write about human behavior—which I believe is mostly fear based—and I would like to, in all of my writing, tell women of my age to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid to stumble and fall, don’t be afraid to say the dirty word, don’t be afraid to live alone (don’t be afraid to live, period), don’t be afraid to die.
But I am hardly fearless. I’ve got this systemic virus called “fear of rejection” (which probably entered my body in high school) that surfaces whenever the hell it wants to. Like when I recently shared a story about masturbation with a friend who immediately told me, “put it out there, women need to hear this.” He reminded me that no one is talking about or writing about the older woman and sex (forget Hollywood—Jane Fonda having breakfast in a chic kimono and sex-tousled hair represents no one and nothing in the real world). He reminded me that there is no sixty-year-old protagonist in erotica, no fictitious sixty someone with desire, never mind lust (I seem to have an abundance of that nasty little sin). But my fear kicks in— that fear of rejection by editors, the disapproval from friends and family, fearful that I might be pigeonholed into one genre and labeled whorish. I have yet to push through this particular fear. The story remains unwritten. It often feels as if the courage well has run dry.
But here I am—talkin’ the M word, inching my way towards authenticity. The courage will replenish itself and I have no doubt that I’ll continue to take risks. I now live in a community where there are more women who talk and think like I do, where living out loud is lauded, where erotica is at home in ones library as is the biography and disapproval applies to over-priced produce. I am hardly fearless, but I’m not afraid of being afraid nor playing the fool. I’m an atypical 60 something, not a feminist but more of a potty-mouth Pollyanna, posting baby pics and pushing women to fully experience that which is not on the bucket list—or to at least stir that bucket with all you’ve got.
p.s. I’m 67.