Now that I’m getting older and no longer have kids at home, I’ve had more time to hang out with other people around my age. And I’ve noticed that there are certain topics which we talk about. A lot.
One of those topics we like discussing is first-floor master bedrooms. If you are not yet over 50 and you don’t know what I mean (or you’re a freak of nature like J Lo) please allow me to explain.
At some point, we begin to realize that our limbs are about ten minutes away from falling off. No, I don’t mean literally; I just mean that our bodies are starting to show wear and tear. A good friend of mine recently fell down the steps and broke one ankle and sprained the other. Yes, I realize that people of all ages fall but it seems to be more likely to happen when you’re older. And when we do fall things seem to break more easily and heal more slowly. Another friend had back surgery for a disc problem. And yet another friend fell on a wet floor and broke two vertebrae in her back. This was all in the past year. And it’s not like I have so many friends. Either my friends are unusually clumsy or this is the start of a trend. Or both.
Basically, we are coming to the realization that we aren’t as spry as we used to be. My 28-year-old son and his fiancée have been talking about rock climbing in the Alps for their honeymoon. I can’t even. Forget about rock climbing; climbing stairs is starting to feel like an adventure for me.
It’s not like I’m planning on moving at this moment in time so that I can have that first-floor master bedroom, but if and when I move, my comfy bed will be within easy reach.
My friends and I are also really big into numbers because all of a sudden numbers have become super important in our lives. Like our cholesterol number, blood pressure, blood sugar, and for the guys, the all-important PSA number which lets them know the health of their prostate. Ask anyone my age or older what their cholesterol is and I guarantee they will have a ready answer. It’s sort of, but not exactly, like knowing a baseball player’s batting average.
Another topic empty nesters talk about is cold weather vs. warm weather. Many of us feel that once hot flashes are over, warm weather is better. We are sick of winter. We’ve done the winter thing for decades and we’ve decided it’s not great. So we dream of sunny skies and warmer temps. Although climate change has made the winters more bearable with less snow and ice, we still don’t like it. (I realize there are some of you who feel that the higher the snow and the lower the temps the better, but I’m talking about most people and not you.) I have fallen on ice and can tell you it’s dangerous (refer back to earlier section about the perils of falling). We aren’t sure when we will go south or whether it will be for a little bit each year or permanently but it’s definitely there on the horizon. Some of it depends on when we retire.
Which leads me to another subject the not-so-young-anymore like to discuss; retirement. We assume that at some point our kids will stop bleeding us dry and we will be able to retire. They will graduate college and get jobs with health plans and 401k plans. When you’re young and foolish, you talk about your kids learning to walk and talk. We brag about ridiculous things like grades, sports awards and college acceptances. When you’re older, all you want is for them to be financially independent. And happy. Right. We want them to be happy as well.
Something people my age also seem to talk about is grandkids. If we don’t have them yet, we want them soonish. Or at least eventually. That son I mentioned, the one who is getting married this summer, made a comment to me that he imagined continuing to travel after he and his bride have kids because (get this): “How hard can traveling with kids be?” I want grandkids so that I can play with them and he can enjoy travelling with them.
Another favorite topic we love talking about is how different our kids are than we were at their age. They actually use their vacation time, travel more and seem to be better at balancing work and play time. They may whine a lot but they are also more self-confident and seem to know what they do and do not want. In truth, we are a little bit envious and in awe of them.
Of course, there are plenty of other things my friends and I talk about: aging parents, politics, travelling, hobbies, etc. But whatever the topic, I like that we are figuring it out together and using each other as resources and sounding boards. It makes this getting older thing a whole lot easier.