Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm Old

I had an epiphany today. I've accepted the reality that I've become more "voluptuous" since Thanksgiving (yup, there are 15 more pounds of me now than then - guess it wasn't the dryer shrinking my cloths). But this isn't the epiphany.

This is: the realization that I'm old. My doctor had braces and looked barely 25.

While living in Sarasota, I was considered a baby in a community of retirees. When I went to the doctor's office then (last time in June), the nurses and doctors discussed strokes, cholesterol levels and arthritis. In Tallahassee, I seem ancient surrounded by college campuses. The health care workers in this clinic discussed HIV and syphilis tests and how lesions are healing.

Looking at myself in the mirror over the past few days, I've noticed persistent circles under my eyes. My skin has lost its elastic spring. I need to trim nose hairs and pluck stray, wiry hairs that pop up in odd places. I can no longer stay up until 2:00 AM and rise and shine at 7:00 AM. This is the part of the aging process that I didn't learn about in school.

Just What I Needed - A Reminder from Japan

I received a letter today from my week #3 Japanese host family. Haya and Yoko were one of the favorite couples I met during my month-long visit in October 2004. In their early 70's and childless, the first thing Haya told me upon meeting was, I would be "their baby for the week."

And they spoiled me. Not just with material things - private suite within their gorgeous home (which Haya designed) and stocked daily with every beverage imaginable along with sweet oranges; private driver to my appointments each day; wonderful meals daily; shipping of my excess luggage back to the US and a very generous gift upon leaving them - but with unconditional love. They seemed genuinely interested and cared about me. In the short period of time spent with them, I felt extremely close. Yoko did not speak English and I did not speak Japanese, but we found a way to communicate and appreciate each other. I had an extremely hard time saying goodbye to them.

It's ironic that I received their note today. I spent a lot of idle time in airport terminals and tarmacs, waiting. Everyone was calling their assumed loved ones to inform them of delays. I had no one to call. No one to bitch to about delayed flights and missed connections. No one to tell that I'll be arriving late. And, no one to pick me up at TLH.

The last line of Haya and Yoko's letter read, "We think of you any time. Your life is not only for you." This reminded me that there are people who care.

Boost a Sista's Esteem

Dove (you know, the soap and other beauty products) sent an email today encouraging people to support and help build the self esteem of girls. (Heck, I'm 35 and still have self esteem issues - do we ever outgrow them? Did I miss the boat on that?). They offer a menu of opportunities to educate girls about how fabulous they are, without changing themselves. Visit the site to learn what you can do.

Waiting to Exhale (And Finally Inhaling)

I spent the past four days in the confines of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. I've never been to Arizona's Biosphere 2 (although, I've been intrigued about the project since it's inception and was disappointed with its downfall), but imagine the Gaylord Opryland is very similar. After all, there is no need to leave the "compound," to the visitor, it's totally self-contained with shopping, dining, sleeping and recreation. It even has a river flowing through the middle of the facilities which contained the water from more than 1,700 bodies fo water throughout the world.
A glass dome encompasses everything and there is greenery everywhere. Daffodils, crocuses and hyacinth, were blooming, alongside magnolias and tropical foliage. Birds swoop down picking up the bread crumbs left by weary guests (in which they left to find their ways back to their rooms). Fish swim in the man-made circle - being the south, I'm really surprised they don't offer fishing!

Oddly, the tree fronds rustled in a wind. A man-made wind is pumped in by vents carved into the man-made rock formations. After a while, I came to realize I was breathing circulated air. It's worse enough that I had to sit in airports and planes with circulated air, but spend the entire four days within it was disconcerting. However, makes me wonder if the Gaylord folks are the innovators in a sustainable society.

You can read about my previous visit to the Gaylord Opryland here.