Sunday, May 10, 2015

Life in the 50s

I am 57. I say it's not getting to me. I was thinking the words "I am 57" for a while before my birthday in October just to become accustomed to the sound of it. Yet there are issues. I realize more then a few people I know or work with are half my age, some well less than half. My mental Rolodex (for those under a certain age look up the word "Rolodex") keeps getting loaded with more and more cards. It occasionally takes me longer than it used to to flip through them to locate a particular name, phrase or title. On surveys I now check the box "55 and over", there is no longer and end date, I find this a little disturbing. I don't think I look 57, many people have commented as such. I find this comforting. I work out regularly, eat fairly decently and try to get an adequate amount of sleep. I am not nor have I ever been an angel or a monk. I still indulge in vices, just in more moderation than I once did. Some of this moderation I mark up to ennui. I began to realize that there are only so many variations to some themes.

I was fortunate to experience my youth during a special time. In my early 20s AIDS was unknown, the dance floors of gay clubs and bars were packed, boisterous and bawdy and drug use did not carry the stigma that it does today. Drug use, and yes, in some cases abuse, among my social set was routine. San Francisco contained a plethora of rambling victorian flats. The split parlors, fainting rooms and service porches allowed for large and ever changing households full of club kids like myself. We had no worries about student loans, we had none, they were not available during those years. We had jobs, some reputable, some menial, we went to during the day. We had clubs we frequented at night. The future seemed far off and, we figured, would somehow figure itself out. We rode a wave of youthful exuberance, energy and naivete.

AIDS began to do some of the scene in. Scores, than hundreds, then thousands died leaving a new generation without mentors or a sense of history. The rise of the internet dealt a virtual death blow. One could hook up online. There was no longer a need to "go out". In my youth feeding a sexual hunger may have been, for some,  the impetus to leave one's home but doing so, gathering in one place, fed a social hunger as well. We met sexual partners but we also laughed, we danced, we enjoyed the company of others. Some we knew, some we did not. It didn't matter, we were all one with a single goal, having fun.

Today the future for young people is uncertain and for some, at times, unforgiving. It can be difficult to find employment even with the degree one has paid thousands of dollars for. The joyful and carefree scene of my youth has disappeared. It will not return, young people feel a need to be more serious now. I do not miss my old life. I have developed, through years of searching and experimenting, a new one. I have the memories and stories of those times that will be with me so long as my mental faculties will allow me to retain them.

I am 57. The age does not concern me. I have had adventures. I have lived fully. I regret nothing. I have lived for 57 years. I look forward eagerly to more.