My friend, Tanya Grove, fellow writer, blogger, (http://tanyagrove.wordpress.com) and current captain of the writer’s club of my heart, the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club, chose for her text today, “Fifty Shmifty”. She shares the story of her 50th birthday party and reminiscences of other decade rollover birthdays.
And what a wonderful prompt for all of us to think upon–where we were, what, and who we were doing on days that were ordinary for everyone else but marked passages for ourselves.
When I was 20, a junior at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, everyone, including, me expected that I would become an attorney. Harry Shapiro was my PoliSci prof. He opened every class with a provocative question and let the crazy and gifted minds run amok for an hour. I had dark brown hair and no girl friend.
When I was 30, I lived in San Juan. I had fled the world of conventional employment, intent on trying the live of a tropical beachcomber. My first sailing boat was an outrigger sailing canoe. My next boat was a 30’ sloop named, Foolish. The sexual revolution had begun in California some years before, but no one notified me, and I missed out on that. I had more brown hair than white.
I think by then I met I’d met Carol Talbot, who gave me my first, lasting lessons in Relationship. I was a poor student, but it was a start. We are still friends.
When I was 40, I’d been back on the mainland for a couple of years. I was five years into a marriage with another Carol. Our boat business was equal parts of earning a living and fun. I owned a lot of boats in this decade and, to this day I am unable to part with all the silver cups my crew won for me on the race course. The majority of the cups are inscribed with the names of two boats—Dynamite and Different Drummer. The white hair had overtaken the dark ones.
When I was 50, after 15 great years, the wheels began to come off of the marriage. We hung on a couple more years, but, in the end, realized it was time to give each other our freedom. We are still friends. By now I had owned 30 boats and vowed to deal with the withdrawal symptoms. I had a few dark hairs left.
When I was 60, I’d been in California for nearly a decade. The boat business was still how I made a living and was still a source of new friends and adventures. I had a 44 ketch that I lived aboard in Sausalito for the warmer months of three years.
When the universe was being assembled, the Designer decided to air condition the outdoors in the Bay Area. Vigorous, healthy outdoor activities, particularly hiking and cycling, filled my spare hours. I finally learned the joys of bachelorhood in the land of the best and brightest, most accomplished and self-assured women in the country. For a while I thought the Sixties had come back to get me. My hair was completely white, and I was grateful to still have it.
When I was 70, the boat business continued to subsidize a happy lifestyle, I acquired boat #32, a 32 trawler. I was quite happy to coast into my dotage in the boat business, but the depression of 2008–? left me with too few crumbs. I was on the verge of adding a new passion as a writer of stories and chronicler of things observed from without and from within. The women I met tended to stay longer, although no one signed on for the duration. I am grateful to Harry Levenson for passing on his genetic disposition for silver hair.
I have given up boat ownership three times. You would think I could say with certainty that I am cured of boat ownership. But I know I can’t be sure.
I’ve been land yachting for two years. s
And what would you care to share with your friends here about your highlight decades?