How old do you feel?


I can’t quite believe I’m three years shy of 50. I still think – and act – like I’m 35. I spot my wrinkles in the mirror sometimes and think “Hang on – who the hell is that?

I certainly don’t feel almost 50, even though I complain about “descending into middle-age” and embracing trakkie daks – a remark that quite incensed one of my Facebook friends, leading her to write: “What does ‘descend into middle age’ mean? It sounds like an outdated stereotype that encourages people to think of older women as invisible. Not in my case. I am attaining new heights of experience and embracing new interests and intend to live the next half of my life to the full, sans tracksuit pants.”

Well, yeah, I’m attaining new heights of experience too … just in my trakkie daks … a far more comfortable way to do it.

Being open to new experiences and interests can be challenging in your late 40s. I’m quite content to flitter around on the internet rather than watch TV … dream about tropical shopping holidays rather than camping expeditions … and curl up in bed at 9.30pm at night.

But not everyone is wired the same way as me, so I’m trying to be more open to different ways of skinning the relaxation cat.

For example: my sister flapped a “cycling in New Zealand” brochure at me over the weekend and I only blanched slightly. Normally I’d recoil in horror. But I’m trying to see it as a good way to combine travel, fresh air, exercise and guilt-free gorging at the end of the day …

I’ve been know to be very adventurous with my travel in the past. I walked the Pilgrim Trail in Spain once, as I recalled in a blog called “Will you marry me?”

I don’t put much stock in astrology, but Pisceans are supposed to have problem feet and I lived up to the stereotype. I have no idea what possessed me to think walking 240km – roughly a third of the Camino – was a good idea. After one of my training walks for the pilgrimage – Petersham to Hurstville – I got infected blisters. After one day on the Camino – 23kms up the side of the Pyrennes, relentlessly pursued by sheep – I wasn’t in much better shape. It looked like we might have to pull out before we’d even really started (like the Brazilian who lost all his toenails after they banged repeatedly against his boots on a particularly sharp descent). Husband was very downcast.

But I soldiered on, sometimes only managing a couple of kilometres a day until we finally found some sport sandals – worn attractively with thick socks – that I could motor along in.

At one low point, I remember wailing: “All I can smell is horse piss and all I can see is mud … this isn’t fun.”

At regular intervals along the Camino cheap hostels have been established for travellers. Shirley Maclaine stayed in them the year after we did and wrote a book about her experiences, called  The Camino. Imagine waking up and finding Shirley lying across from you one morning?

Husband and I would rise before dawn each day so we could arrive at the next hostel first, where he would proceed to barracade the communal bathroom with his body while I had a private shower with the limited hot water. Then we’d totter to the nearest restaurant to write ourselves off with carafes of cheap Spanish wine. I’d totter back to the hostel and hoist my legs into my bunk bed with my hands – they were too sore to do it without assistance – and pass out for the rest of day while Husband went sight-seeing.

Still, it’s a talking point at parties. Makes me sound misleadingly exotic.

Anyway, descending into middle age DOESN’T mean I’ve given up on life. There are so many things I want to do and see. And, NSW Lotteries Office and dog sitters permitting … I will.

While camping, skiing, scuba diving and anything involving heights or squat toilets are on the dodgy list, there are many things I’m prepared to give a whirl. I might even – despite vowing NEVER AGAIN – contemplate walking the Pilgrim Trail once more, with a few modifications like not climbing the Pyrennes or staying in hostels.

This girl wants to have FUN.

Song of the day: Cyndi Lauper “Girls just wanna have fun”


8 thoughts on “How old do you feel?

  1. My Mum, who turned 80 in October, regularly declares that she is not “old”. In fact, we had this conversation on the Mother’s Day weekend when she declared that she was too busy to be “old”, but she did have a sore back! Mum says she doesn’t think she is old, not like those 70-75 year olds at the rehab pool or the Bridge Club!
    And, at 58 years, I reckon I have a 30 year old brain and keep wondering when I will grow up (apart from having a sad, unhealthy 58 year old body, of course!)…perhaps it’s in the genes. 🙂

    • Your mum sounds awesome. And I think it’s great you’ve decided not to grow up. Hang onto that 30-year-old brain and keep having thirtysomething fun, Geoff.

  2. If I’m descending into old age then I’m in denial about it. My age might be on the up-side of 50 but that doesn’t mean I have to act it. There aren’t any rules are there?!

    • I reckon you’d be in excellent shape Char. And no, there are very few rules these days. Remember how “old” 40 used to look? Attitudes have changed.

  3. One of my favourite quotes is from Gertrude Stein ‘you are always the same age inside’ so true, esp when you see a stranger looking back at you in the mirror as you’ve forgotten you’re not 30 anymore!

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