Invisible Moments
Elsbeth at Thanksgiving

The Can’t-Waits

category_bug_journal2.gif We humans like new beginnings, the chance to start over. We make resolutions on New Year’s Day and whether we keep them or not, we enjoy the idea of a clean slate, the opportunity to do things better in the coming twelve months.

Birthdays hold the idea of a clean slate too, along with graduations, new jobs, marriage, even divorce and – a new place to live.

On Sunday, I go to Portland, Maine for most of the week to find a new home to buy. The decision to leave New York, forced on me by circumstance, was made six weeks ago and since then, in the busy-ness of preparing this home for its sale, I hadn’t realized until a few days ago that this move is a new beginning for me.

Looking back, it appears that I’ve made it a lifetime career to start over. I left home at age 16, one week after graduating from high school. I married and then I divorced. I’ve had four careers, starting at the bottom of each one, whatever my age. I’ve lived in six cities, liking some better than others. And now there will be a seventh.

I didn’t expect this at my age. Sixty-four, when it’s written out like that, seems a time for being settled, and when I moved into this apartment 22 years ago, I swore they’d take me out feet first. I held fast to a lyric from Manhattan Tower: “New York’s my home, let me never leave it. New York’s my home sweet home.”

But today, I’ve got a giant case of the can’t-waits. A whole new city to discover. Different customs, sensibilities, ambience, rhythm of life. Every place, large and small, has its singular myth and to maintain a cohesive culture, everyone living in that place must buy into the local myth which affects politics, schools, building codes, transportation, elections, how taxes are spent - everything.

New York believes it is the center of the universe. It is brash, arrogant, loud and in your face. I wonder what Portland, Maine believes about itself…

I won’t find the answer in one week of house-hunting, but this trip is the beginning of my new beginning. And I can’t wait.

[You will find another take on all this at A Sense of Place. It’s somewhat more maudlin but no less true of the mixed emotions I’m juggling.]


Your perky mood brought to mind the words of a song I vaguely remembered. Here are the lyrics I found:
"I Can't Wait"

How it happens
I don't care
If it's rainin'
Or what I wear
I know today is taking me
Where I'm meant to be
Doesn't matter where I go
With my boy shoes
And my rock star phone
I'm waiting for a friend to call
Or the rain to fall

Life goes by
Who knows why

I can't wait for the world to spin
I can't wait to be happenin
Ooh, What's it gonna take

I can't wait for the time to come
When I'll be shining like the sun
I can't wait (I can't wait)...

There are more verses, but I am sure this will do. Happy house-hunting and good luck!

Thank you for saying, on my birthday, that 'birthdays hold the idea of a clean slate' - what a nice thing to stumble on...

Let's all wish Jean a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY today...

Ronni, How exciting that you are starting to have the "can't wait" feeling.

And, Jean, Happy Birthday! There are cakes, flowers and candles waiting for you over at my place.

Warm smiles to you both!

A good attitude is half the battle, Ronni. I am certain you'll do fine wherever you go. You have an inquisitive mind and people who like learning new things always do well, far into old age.

Have a wonderful trip. The can't-waits are a good sign indeed.

“At 42, I am ‘lucky’ in that I can easily pass for 10 to 15 years younger, BUT I have many times been confronted with ageism in sheer reaction to the number of years I have been alive.
“At one particular interview, the mood was light and airy. We were all joking with each other and I had a real feeling of being ‘one of the gang’. The woman interviewing me was 31. I was feeling so comfortable that when the conversation turned to favorite childhood TV shows, I had no qualms about ‘outing’ myself about the decade I grew up in.

“In a split-second the mood of the room changed. Clearly the interview was over now that they had figured out that I was (shock, gasp) in my forties.

“But how do you prove something like this? And who do you prove it to? Everything they had loved about me was still there - it's just that it had been there for 10 years longer than they thought...”

I applaud your decision to start a new life, but, please don't give up on verbally kicking the butts of ageist Americans.

If the above selection was the letter that started you on your relocation ("early retirement"), and you believe this is significantly representative for that age group (40+), it just shows how out of touch and foolish I've been for the past few years. I, too, am 42 but pass for much younger. And I started noticing about 4 years ago that I was being left out of office social events, along with being treated as invisible when I was out at restaurants, clubs, etc. I just can't believe that a number (age, birthday) makes that much of a difference to people. How can find me acceptable one second, then change the moment they find out my birthday -- when I am still ME? I was particularly hurt when a 30-yr-old I befriended at work started hanging with the below-30 crowd and since that day completely ignored me. I guess it was ok for her to have friends 10 years younger but not 10 years older? (In my case, there ARE no older women here for me to befriend, so, she was one of the closest in age to me.) This is the clincher -- a few people communicated this message to me as I described my social problems: "Oh, don't worry, it's not that they don't like you or that you did anything wrong, IT'S JUST THE AGE THING." Like that was supposed to make me feel better?!? And I would like to work here at least 12 - 16 more years (I have a 9-yr-old girl and 6-yr-old boy and am the main breadwinner) -- but judging from the asinine attitiudes I see around me, I'm getting a bit nervous. Anyway, I will always read your blog; I hope your move goes smoothly.

I forgot to sign my name to the above post! Sincerely, Raz

Happy birthday, Jean! And, Ronni, good luck finding a special place in Portland.

Good luck on your house hunting, Ronni.

I find this house hunting quite exciting. As you have quite made up your mind, I think that you won't have any trouble finding a place you like.
Five and a half years ago, I had made up my mind that I wanted to move and I visited exactly three flats. The second one was the flat I live in now.
Hope it goes just as easily for you.

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