I started worrying about it last spring. Right after I turned 69. The day I realized that in just 364 more days I would turn 70, a time for reflection if there ever was one. And what did I have to show for having lived so long?
It may be true that people do amazing things at all advanced ages--just consult Guinness on that--but I needed to face the fact that I had not rowed solo across the Atlantic from Scotland to America as Diana Hoff had done at 55, nor had I given birth to twins at the age of 67 like Carmela Bousada. And I'm fairly certain that, unlike Cornelius Vanderbilt, I am not going to begin buying railroads at age 70.
So, there's no record-setting for me. So far, anyway.
I must acknowledge that there are some mundane things not worth pondering any longer either. Actually, it's a relief to no longer cling to these aspirations as I don't really see the point in enduring braces to get a perfect smile. My feet hurt often enough as it is so ballerina training is out--Misty Copeland's status is secure. Balancing a checkbook is equivalent to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, so you know neither one of those is going to happen. And in forty years, I've never mastered a pie crust; the frozen ones from Safeway are just fine,
So perhaps I need to stop worrying about achievements--or the lack thereof--and consider what I have accomplished. I may not have discovered the laws of probability by studying mule kicks as Simeon Poisson did when he was 67, but I've certainly known my share of mules and learned from all of them. After all, I went to college in the turbulent sixties, was kissed inappropriately by my philosophy professor well before the "Me, Too" movement, and married and later divorced the hippie who broke our second date to go to Woodstock. There were certainly a lot of stubborn students I encountered in my 26 years in the classroom teaching English, too. So, there you have it. I'm an accomplished septuagenarian after all!
Obviously a celebration is in order, but what would a fitting celebration entail?
I thought about taking all my friends to a villa in some exotic location like Puerto Vallarta, but then I realized I'd worry so much about whether they were having a good time that I'd be miserable myself.
That idea was out, but I knew a celebration would have to involve travel somewhere because that is when I feel most alive. And, facing 70, I needed to feel alive--to feel the thrill that comes from turning a corner to delight in the chevron pattern of a road of polished marble. I wanted to smell fresh croissants, hear the sibilant sounds of a foreign tongue, and squander several hours in a sidewalk cafe dappled in sunlight. A trip to Europe it would be!
Maybe it would be best to visit a place I'd always longed to see as well as a place that would evoke wonderful memories; I wanted 70 to be a time of anticipating the future while also appreciating the past. The Cotswolds in England, with thatched roof villages connected by serpentine narrow roads, satisfied the first requirement. This area would be a fairy-tale come to life. And Florence, where I'd spent five weeks two years ago studying Renaissance Art would undoubtedly thrill me all over again. The itinerary was set.
David declined to take two trips to Europe in one summer--we're already booked for a Baltic cruise later on--but my friend Phoebe was game. We spent five months planning every detail of this adventure, and Phoebe typed several itineraries until we got to the one titled "Final, Final, Final."
So, grab your hat, kiss your cat and dog and your significant other good-bye, and come along with us on what we hope will be an exciting Celebrating-70-Trip!