An Out of Decade Experience

My friend, Tanya Grove, fellow writer, blogger, ( 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?


4 Responses to An Out of Decade Experience

  1. David L says:

    The latest is more memorable than the rest.

  2. Michael says:

    50 is 23 years behind me and memorable. The neighbors gave me a surprise birthday party in a recently magnificently restored Alameda Victorian. 80 to 100 good folks, and a belly dancer who placed a dozen paper leis around my neck as she shook her wares in my face. The big cake came next with 50 candles burning and held in front of me to blow out. My deep breath was followed by leaning forward to blow . . . . and the the paper leis lit up in flames. Both the fat and thin ran for the doors save 4 of us: my oldest son, the owner of the Victorian, and a 300 lb lady friend who joined vigorously in the stomping of flames on the new plush carpet.

    Flames out, and the party over, I sat with the owner who fortunately was a close friend. We surveyed the damage to his weeks old carpet: burned and singed areas scattered across the middle of the room. Wrecked.

    I made it clear I was going to cover the damage, and called a carpet layer fellow we knew, Bob, a Chinese man who fled Mainland China by swimming to Hong Kong. Bob came the next evening and looked at the damage. “You did this at your birthday party?” We explained how it happened.

    Bob was quiet for a bit, then looked at the owner and I and said: “You take a walk. Come back in an hour.”

    In an hour we came back to a perfect carpet. No sign of damage anywhere!

    Bob had shaved the entire carpet with a straight razor, and it looks perfect still today. He would not allow me to pay him. “No, no!” he said. “Now your happy birthday will be a good memory!”

    I am grateful for my friends.

  3. Colleen rae says:

    In my twenties. I raised two children. In my thirties I traveled the world. My forties found me turning my journals into novels, fifty I had gone thru, enjoyed three more husbands. Not all at once. My sixties I stayed single, free for the first time from obligations. Now in my seventies I have four books behind me, a new man out front and working on a new manuscript. Life is indeed full..

  4. MaryAnne says:

    amazing what changes happen in a decade of earth time.
    The 20 something years launched this red haired lass into a 53 year(and still going) career in Radiology as a technologist. Marriage happened, Adoption of two babies while living in Hawaii (Air Force) began motherhood.
    During the 30’s the children grew, and two more joined the crew, biologically. Career continued with a dapple in Real Estate for a few years as a second income after divorce happened. The 40’s found me cutting a wide swathe across the dating world, adding EMT to the resume, teaching CPR and Divorce Recovery groups, still taking x-rays and watching the nest empty it’s contents into colleges.
    This continued into the 50’s with ever increasing freedom as little ones became adults and moved on.The 60’s ahhh! now they were just plain fun. Dating, dancing, purchasing a motorhome, traveling,still working in medicine, retireing from full time employment, playing more, now teaching classes on safe serving to alcohol sellers/servers as a supplementary income. The 70’s just began a year ago and I anticipate more fun (at a slower pace), hopefully a co-pilot in the RV, (dating is not so much fun anymore), more international travel, a smaller home with a son for a landlord, continuing on a wonderful Spiritual Path that began 2 yrs. ago, living half time in Colorado and Arizona, meeting new friends everywhere and maintaining the body so as to enjoy all that is to come. I echo Colleen…life is indeed, FULL!

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