60

Dress shopping for my son’s upcoming wedding has reminded me I’m not young.

All of the dresses that make me say, “Ooooooo!” are ones more appropriate for a  17-year-old at her prom.  The stuff under mother–of-the- groom dresses is matronly — the kind of thing you wear with sensible shoes.  I haven’t worn sensible shoes, aside from the broken foot incident, since my mother had me in corrective saddle oxfords in second grade.  I still blame her for my shoe addiction.

I’m turning 60 year this.  Years ago, I was quite certain that turning 60 would bother me.  None of my other birthdays, save the 25th one, did but my 25th surprised me with its sucker punch.  But, I said all along, “I think 60 will bother me.”  So far it hasn’t.  I have until August to have a meltdown, but mostly I’m just astonished that I’ll be six decades on this planet.  I throw that in there because my 25th birthday brought a meltdown that, long story short, resulted in the birth of my son against all odds – the same son who is now getting married and presumably will produce grandchildren during my lifetime.  Old or not, I’m wild about the idea of grandchildren.

As a young person, I was never able to imagine myself as old.  I couldn’t quite get past the idea of 40.  When I turned 50, I had a surprise birthday party and was flummoxed that so many friends came so many miles to help me celebrate.  Fifty didn’t bother me in the least.  But like 60, I just didn’t know how it could be true.

60.

Dresses on Amazon, my go-to place for clothes that will actually fit me, for the 60-crowd are gray.  Or navy blue.  What is it about older women that they think we want blend-into-the-wall colors?  If it weren’t a wedding, I would wear black.  My go-to formal color.

After much trial and error, I’ve settled on two ensembles.  Neither of which are in my possession.  I had to custom order each of them from China.

My mother and I spent an afternoon taking my measurements.  One’s measurements in centimeters are depressing.  One’s weight in kilograms is not.

One outfit is the quintessential mother-of-the-groom ensemble if one is a little edgy.  I’m a lot edgy, but the ensemble won an informal Facebook poll as the most me.  It’s gray.  Lace.  Chiffon pantsuit with a skirt overlay.  It’s stunning.  But it is only suitable as a mother-of-the-groom outfit.  I’m not likely to wear it again.

The second is a dress that I found just today.  It’s an ocean blue sheath with a cowled back and a rhinestone criss-cross-y bra strap kind of thing.  It makes my heart go pitter patter.  I ordered it too.  It’s suitable for my age, but is plenty edgy.

I am so tired of looking for something to wear.  I have the shoes, the purse,  the jewelry.  I just need the dress.  I  now want to enjoy the anticipation of my son marrying his love in Spain.

Between the two ensembles, some seamstress in China with my exact measurements in centimeters will surely manage to fit my unusually tall body.  Surely.  Please.

I think both are age appropriate, but maybe not.  I’m not usually appropriate.  I still feel 25 and I still gravitate towards dresses more appropriate for the prom crowd.  When, pray tell, does one begin feeling their age?  I’m about to turn 60 and am astonished that’s true and yet I still feel 25.

Mary Janes

first gradeWe were still living in California, so I couldn’t have been older than 7.  It was Easter and my mother had sewn me the most beautiful dress.  It was peach and satin and roses.  It begged for twirling and preening.  I had brand new, unscuffed patent leather mary janes to wear with it.

Oh my.  I was beautiful that Easter Sunday in my new dress and new shoes and curled hair.

Then Monday morning arrived.  I’d been given permission to wear that glorious dress to school.  I dressed.  Petticoat, dress, shoes.  I left the gloves off.  Mom said, “No.”  No mary janes.  I had to wear the ugly, the soooooooooooo ugly corrective shoes with that beauteous dress.

I was shocked.  Incredulous.  Abashed.  Pale and wan.

And, yet.  The dress was better than nothing.

I spent the whole day at school staring at the juxtaposition of the ugly shoes with the beautiful dress.  I couldn’t make the two mesh.  Complete discord.

To this day, I have to have the right shoe for the outfit.  I blame my mother.

If the only thing you can blame your mother for is your shoe fetish, you’ve had a good life.

It’s good to be me.

In praise of the perfect purse.

marshallpurse (2)The beginning of the school year through about February is the time of year I try to get a little more organized. The craze peaks with the New Year, generally. Year after year, January and February provoke me to look for ways to streamline and minimalize my life. While the grand plans of these two months seldom materialize in their entirety, I do make baby steps of progress.

This year I’m peaking early. At least I hope I’m peaking – I can’t sustain this frenzy for too much longer.

Often on this list of improvements is the acquisition of the Perfect Purse. Year after year, I try to downsize. As is my predilection, I take it too far. Even I should realize that I can’t go from a laptop briefbag to a clutch large enough for my driver’s license and a single Tic Tac.

comparison (2)I’ve been carrying HUGE purses since junior high. It started because it was fashionable. Some of the women amongst us will remember that time between girlhood and adulthood when we had to work to find stuff to put in our purses. We were too young for makeup, driver’s licenses and keys. Mace wasn’t invented yet. And we didn’t have cell phones, laptops, ipods, water bottles, or complicated calendar-agenda thingies. We didn’t have checkbooks, bills, tax receipts, legal pads or unpaid parking tickets.

What we had was a wallet bursting with classmate photos, a note from the cute boy in the second row, 45 cents for lunch, the sacred hair brush, the emergency dime, and a dusty sanitary napkin in the event the gym teacher wasn’t lying and we could expect the full bloom of womanhood any second.

By 9th grade, we did have the makeup and menstrual products, but that still wasn’t enough to get enough weight into the bottom of a tapestry carpetbag that was all the rage of the stylin’ and profilin’. Without sufficient weight, the thing looked stupid. So I tossed in a couple of books, some magazines, a transistor radio, spare batteries, another hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, a change of clothes, my school books, and poster paints.

makeup (3)As time went on, the truly useless stuff got evicted (poster paints) and true necessities (mousse, butane curling iron, Sony Walkman, leg warmers) got thrown in. Those things were evicted and replaced with diapers, pacifiers, thermometers, Tylenol, etc.

By the time I was 30, carrying a suitcase for a purse was so entrenched I didn’t think anything of it. I carried everything I might conceivably need with me at all times. (Until the TSA waged war on American airline passengers, I carried a corkscrew.)

Periodically, I think I might be able to rattle around town without quite so much and downsize to a small purse.

Trekking up and down the hill in the snow usually provokes the small purse thing. (Thank you, very much, I will not have to climb the hill this year due to the acquisition of the Subaru. Unless there is a big honking blizzard in which case, I will dance up the hill because BIG snow is fun.)

Last time, I thought I was being more realistic in the downsizing thing. I downsized to a fetching little Liz Claiborne number in a hot red with sizzling silver links. It looked big enough to hold more than a driver’s license and a Tic Tac.

It kind of worked. Everything fit, more or less except I had to take out everything to get to the one thing I wanted.

That got old.

keys I also had to downsize the key ring(s) for there even to be a prayer. I carry two rings of keys. One ring holds the car key, the house key, the post office key, the car remote, and the office key I use most. The second ring holds the other 7 office keys, keys I’ve had so long I don’t know what they are, and a huge circa 2005 4 gig flash drive I use to carry software between offices.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that what works for me best is the open pit purse – a purse with no dividers , just a gaping maw like the carpetbag of old. They’re very hard to find.  Very.  This past summer I purchased a most-fetching white gaping maw hobo bag.  Well, it was kind of a gaping maw, but the designer insisted on dividing the maw.  It was better than most – far better.  I was in purse heaven. I vowed to no longer flirt with a little purse.

gaping maw (2)When it came time to get out winter’s black purse, all the dividers and pockets and thises and thats made me crazy. I couldn’t find anything and kept having to dump it all out on a floor somewhere to find that one essential thing I needed.

So, the other day I was at Marshall’s when, no kidding, this purse leaped off a hook into my basket where it bounced off the side with some English spin and into my loving arms like a well-sunk 8-ball. I am in purse heaven. It’s huge, has the requisite SINGLE gaping maw, and was made by a bunch of Italians with a sense of how leather is supposed to perform. It cost more than I usually spend, but it is quite possibly the perfect purse. Some of you will scoff, saying there is no perfect purse. You may be right. You are probably right. But right now I think it’s perfect and that’s enough for today.

So what’s in your purse?