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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birthday Nostalgia

So I had a birthday this week and it got me thinking about where my life is going and where I have been. A messy, howling, crooked journey filled with love, loss, life, motherhood, careers, and friends who have come and gone.

It also got me thinking about how design and fashion play such a large role in our memories. I consider myself a child of the seventies, a generation so overshadowed by the baby boomers who where coming of age in the 60s as to be almost forgotten. I am technically considered a boomer because I was born in 1962, but I was a one-year old in diapers when Kennedy was shot and I was a seven-year-old watching cartoons during Woodstock and the hippy movement. Still, I do remember the clothes of my early childhood. They went from these peter pan and bib collars that look like a page ripped straight out of my old Sears catalog:

to this:

I tell you ladies, foxy brown in the bell bottom jeans was rocking it! I so remember those suede fringe purses and huge hoop earrings. Maybe it was junior high. I actually get nostalgic for maxi coats and seeing fros on black people. I know, I called them fros and I did not call this model "African American." And no matter how "they" try to sanitize and scrub our language (I was an editor for a major book publisher. I know), I don't feel any culpability in this vernacular. We were white, they were black. I lived it and I was there. Just saying.

Like all of my prepubescent friends, I was fascinated with "Charlie's Angels." It wasn't just that Kate and company were beautiful, this was the very first prime-time show that portrayed women in a role other than wife or mother except, of course, Angie Dickinson's "Police Woman" and Hot Lips Houlihan in "Mash." It was progress, but not much. The sexism of these old shows makes me cringe in embarrassment so I am not proud that people of my age are nostalgic for a TV series like Pan Am.

All the girls in my high school had "feathered" hair like Farrah. God, I hate that she is gone! Life is so fleeting, but so, alas, is youth. As I walk through these "middle" years, I am learning a lot about myself, including what it is like to be invisible. No one ever shared this little secret about middle-age. It goes something like this: no matter how you dress or how much "help" you get with your skin and your clothes, you will still be a middle-aged woman with good makeup and a great bag and hair.

Unless you are extraordinary in the hotness department like Demi Moore, you will become invisible. Gone are the days of a full nest, admiring glances from men, cat calls, or just plain animal attraction. And it isn't just the men.Young women ignore me, too. They glance over me and within seconds I am deemed a non-threat and a loser in the fashion department like their own mothers. Dang, I am not even thought of as interesting. I am not in the PTA but I don't qualify for a seniors discount yet. WTF? Who am I? It's like being 13 years old again. I understand that I have left behind the years of procreation, but I am not dead yet! Heck, I think I am still a bit sexy, just not as sexy as Angie.

As I have walked these last few years in my forties, I often find myself in this strange place of reflecting on the past and mulling over who is inside this physical body I always took for granted. I am no one's lover, mommy, or "hot" girlfriend, yet I am a mother, someone's daughter, best friend, and a woman who has gone 10 rounds with the world and life has not grown bitter or given up but has gotten smarter, more humble, more patient, wiser, and kinder.

Rest assured, I will paint on my face every morning before leaving the house because it doesn't matter if I am invisible to other people. I have reached that happy place of self-acceptance that I never had as a younger women. And guess what? I kinda like me!

Okay, enough of the whining on my lack of hotness, let's talk design! Now this is some far out, groovy decor:

But I must admit that most of my girlfriend's homes looked a lot more like this little gem:

Yes, Virginia, there was a wallpaper monster with a penchant for colonial and DayGlo orange Formica.

While we were practicing applying just the right amount of blue eyeshadow to our lids and rolling our hair in hot rollers, one of our parents thought this looked good:

And if by chance any of my childhood girlfriends are reading this and remembering when, life IS a celebration, only now we are just mature enough to appreciate it. Let's have cake!


  1. I just turned 48 last week and have lately spent a lot of time thinking about just this thing: Being invisible! I'm not terrible looking, not hideous. Just invisible and not really husband is a year older, and yet he still gets 'looks'. Kinda struggling with the whole thing, so I was glad to see your post. Thanks.

  2. I am feeling you Carol-Anne and I appreciate your comment! We were warned about hot menopause and facial hair but no one ever talked about this invisible thing! You actually made my day by confirming that I am not the only one experiencing this. It really does feel like I am 13 again and don't know what I am going to be when it is all over! LOL!

  3. Hi, new to your blog. First off, happy belated birthday! I found this post very interesting as I am 46 and also at the point in life that we refer to as midlife. As a teenager I often felt invisible to certain boys. When I was in my early 20's, fresh out of college, I felt that co-workers in their midlife years considered me invisible. I had little job or life experience so my opinion didn't matter. When I went into a furniture store or boutique the sales people ignored me, someone my age couldn't possibly afford what they were selling. The list goes on. Maybe it's all about our attitude and what we value as we age. When I'm feeling less than attractive I remind myself that it's the quality of one's character that's important.