When I was a teenager, inspired by Twiggy and Cher, my friends and I rolled up our skirts to make them shorter and put on make-up in the restroom at school where our mothers couldn’t see us. Lined up in front of those sinks and mirrors, we ratted our hair into bouffants, padded our bras with our socks, critiqued our changing bodies, and gossiped.
Boy crazy was a phrase we used to describe a girl judged to be delirious with the desire to be part of a couple. All the cool girls had boyfriends. The coolest girls broke up with one boyfriend to start up with a better one. Girls were measured by their boyfriend’s status and success. That’s how it’s always been.
Now I’m 65, and it’s a rush to witness all those body changes all over again — shape, skin, face, hormones, hair. And I still follow the latest fashions, even if I don’t wear them. But one thing is quite different in my late life metamorphosis. I’m not boy crazy. Since puberty I was either looking for a man or I had one. But being part of a couple doesn’t interest me anymore. It’s no longer a driving force in my life. That’s a big change for me.
For 32 years of marriage my life was organized around another person. It took me years after my husband died to learn to live alone. There was no dress rehearsal for being single. Suddenly my co-pilot was gone and I was flying solo. Then once I got comfortable with my circumstances, I had to face other people thinking that I wasn’t whole if I didn’t have a husband, that I couldn’t possibly be happy, that it was risky. You’d be surprised how many people think a woman’s life purpose is to be the accompaniment to a man.
I’m not looking for a partner because for the first time in my life, I have the freedom to focus on myself. In this next phase I want to concentrate on my own talents and ingenuity. I want to explore new dreams. Elder women are a powerful force for change in the world. We have the will, the wisdom, and the resources to tilt humanity toward wellbeing. That excites me. I want to be part of that.
I have my moments of anxiety just like everybody else. But I push through them because I believe in my future. I don’t want to be somebody else. I’m living with my dog in a one-woman nest, looking forward to a new set of achievements, and I’m thrilled by the possibilities. My life is finally all about me, and it feels like a gift.