Indian summer this week. Temperatures in the 90s. So yesterday we decided to go to Napa for a few days. Sit by a swimming pool, on a hillside. We leave tomorrow. I’m packing this morning, very happily.
It’s not a cold climate, here by the San Francisco Bay. But it does get wet come winter. Ever since I turned 35 – perhaps 40, I don’t remember – I’ve had the sense that summer serves to dry out our bones. Gets in there and bakes the marrow empty. This is a climate where you are well-served to take your cues from the seasons. We do without air conditioning for good reason.
When your bones are dry you can rest easy. When you exhale, with dry bones, anything difficult leaves with your breath. I know this is imaginary, but we are allowed a little bit of magical realism.
These days, if I think about it, my only unsolvable difficulty is aging. The minute we reach peace with ourselves, forgive old mistakes and get comfortable with our emotional makeup, the universe pulls out a new trick.
I turn 54 on Thursday. I’m not yet sure of my philosophy and approach to older age. What to fight and what to embrace? Do I still follow my instincts? The pull of the seasons becomes stronger. Are they more dangerous now? I mean this not at all in a morbid fashion, but I understand more old people die in winter.
I need a strong summer now. More sun to dry my bones. This is not a bad thing. If you’re my age, maybe you feel the same way.
If you’re young, I imagine you wish I wouldn’t talk about this. When I was young I wanted to hear no talk of aging or death. I figured I’d never die, and that old age would be scary. But sitting here, now, an open suitcase on my floor, a bathing suit at the ready, it’s really not so bad.
I’ve been watching old ladies in bathing suits all my life. The summer we lived in Santa Monica, I remember an old lady tanned dark brown, shameless in her maillot. My next door neighbor mowed her lawn in a bikini top. She must have been 60 at the time. I forgive them all now and I wag my finger at my younger self who disapproved. I didn’t know it wasn’t about their skin, or their flesh, anymore. It’s bones. And I didn’t know how good they felt in the sunshine.
Feel no more pity or shame for old ladies in their bathing suits. They are, perhaps, evolved. Seasonal, if you will.