Old Friend

There’s this kind of lady, ten years my senior or older than that. She has settled comfortably into her large and padded body. An interchangeable body: spreading thighs, ample bottom, low and squarish busom (you’d have to call it), thinning, flossy or frizzy short hair, rimless glasses that seem to reflect more than the average lenses. This last is important because you can’t see their eyes, just flashing rectangles of light. There are two of them across from me at SFO, waiting for an early flight to Portland, both of them favoring the “bohemian” garb sold at Chico’s. Tunics, vaguely Asian jackets with Nehru collars, dangly beaded earrings and beaded chains for their glasses. They look to be old friends. Old and friends, as well as old friends. They are discussing the kinds of issues social workers deal with, I imagine: inclusive language, wheelchair accessibility, diversity workshops, and lots of application processes. One of them speaks in sassy Southern tones, the other in the nasal, pinched way of older Midwestern ladies. 


The nasal one: It just makes me feel invisible.


The sassy one: Getting old sucks. 


I, too, have been feeling invisible lately, just as the literature about aging said I would. Young people, stylish women, men of any age don’t see me anymore. Am I imagining this? I find myself speaking to strangers so they will notice me. Affirming that I am, in fact, visible. 


Yesterday crossing Union Square a guy looked up and said: Hello gorgeous. Out of force of habit (an old* habit, meaning one I no longer have), I put on my arrogant look: I don’t see you. Then I wondered: isn’t this what I wanted? And also, he must be selling something.


Back in the airport:


The nasal one, proudly: I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to join the stress of the crowd at the boarding gate. I’ll just sit here and wait it out, thank you very much.


(Is this what it means to live on the edge in your Sixties?) 


The sassy one: Traveling sucks. 


*Funny how “old” can mean “doesn’t exist any more” (old job) and also habitual, a constant (old friends). I guess being old makes you appear (or at least feel as if you appear) both: habitually non-existent. 




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