Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spin Cycle: Change

On Getting Older

The other day I posted a dream where I was taking a picture. My awareness was behind the camera looking through the lens. A volcano was in the background and I think it was Haleakala, but it could have been Kilauea. The person in front of the camera was a younger me.


Two nights before I had been at my friend’s house (“P”) for an Oscar party. While we were watching the Oscars, she busted out a photo album from 1983 (P and I were roommates) and was showing my daughter pictures. She wanted to show my daughter pictures of an event we worked once. Another friend of ours is a dancer (she was also at the Oscar party). Our dancer friend (“T”) led an exciting life back in the 80’s, traveled the world dancing, and even now works events as a ballroom dancer. Did you know that wealthy people hire ballroom dancers to start the dancing at their events? I guess the professional dancers make the rest of them feel like they are dancing better just by being on the same dance floor with them. Anyhoos, T and her troupe were working a huge convention event once in 1983, and they needed a couple of extra dancers to dance in the go-go booths. Yes, while T and her group were doing jazz numbers on the stage, P and I were put in go-go booths. The theme was under the sea and we had these humongous head pieces on that I think were supposed to be seaweed. Our dance costumes were beige leotards with green sequins spiraling around us.

You could tell in the pictures that we were having the time of our lives. We went through the rest of the album, and it reminded me how much carefree fun we had back then. We started off living in Waikiki and made friends with several of the beach boys that worked the sailboats. We would sail for free at sunset with them when they took the boats back to the harbor. There were pictures of us on the sailboat. We were in swim suits I had forgotten and in bodies that left us long ago. Or at least are trying to leave us by heading in sags towards the ground.

The movie Flashdance came out that year and P had pictures of us lined up in the apartment before going out clubbing. We were dressed in miniskirts, pumps and little white anklets. Our T’s were ripped to fall off the shoulder like Jennifer Beals. My daughter looked at these pictures and asked if we had worked another show that night and that she like our “costumes.”

There were pictures from a birthday party we had in our apartment when my dad was visiting and staying with us. If I was 25, he was 58. Only a few years older than I am now. He was sitting there surrounded by my Bobby McGee’s friends. While everyone else was hamming it up and posing for the camera, he sat in the midst with a beer in his hand. I remember he went to bed early while the rest of us drank late into the night and then he woke me up first thing in the morning and wanted his tourist day. We rented mopeds and went for hours on them, winding up at the harbor where he wanted to take a cruise on the glass bottomed boat. He got pissed off that I wanted to take a nap on the deck in the sun when he had paid good money for me to be below deck, looking through the glass. It was stuffy and gross down there and made me want to throw up. I was hung over after all.

So in this midst of a chaotic week where life piles up around me faster than dirty laundry, my dreams are pointing me toward reflection. My readers left some wonderful insights in the comment thread that also point me in that direction.

When I look at the photos of all the younger me’s, I see myself living life, not getting beaten up by it. Next month I will make my three year mark as a cancer survivor. No matter how much busy each day hands me, I want to remember to stay centered and focused on what is important. I want to live life, not just get through each day. I want to acknowledge all the different selves I have evolved through over the years. Here is a quote from a favorite story. Sandra Cisneros says it so well, I’ll let her say it for me.

What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you've eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you are--underneath the year that makes you eleven.

Like some days you might say something stupid, and that's the part of you that's still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama's lap because you're scared, and that's the part of you that's five. And maybe one day when you're all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you're three, and that's okay. That's what I tell Mama when she's sad and needs to cry. Maybe she's feeling three.

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree truck or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one.

Sandra Cisneros, Eleven



Your sound is fine. The music comes in a t 20 seconds. I know you are busy, but relax and enjoy the video. This is one of my favorite Hawaiian songs. It always reminds me of change and growing older and wanting to go back to our childhood selves. In 1987 this song was played at the funeral of a friend of mine. She was married to a bartender at my work and they had three young children. She was killed in a car accident and at the funeral, when the musicians were playing this song, and I had to sit there and watch those three kids in the front row, I really lost it. I "cried like my three year old self."

Change is a strange thing it cannot be denied

It can help you find yourself or make you lose your pride

Move with it slowly as on the road we go

Please do not hold on to me we all must go alone



Now this song always brings a lump to my throat and reminds me of my own mortality. So, no matter how busy things seem, the yield sign starts flashing and I leave busy for a few minutes and do something that will make memories instead of just making a living.

I have no idea who the dancer is in the video, but I thought her interpretive dance was kind of cool. It is not traditional hula, and the YouTube site says it is a combination of several dance styles.

For more spins on change, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

41 comments:

True Blue Texan said...

I love the idea of all of our younger selves nesting inside us.

Great spin!

Mama Dawg said...

That is an awesome way to look at birthdays. And also a justification on the way we feel sometimes. I tend to forget that don't leave the past age behind, that it's always in us.

Casey said...

That song is beautiful. I've got it playing in the background. I read about a little girl my daughter's age who passed away earlier this month, three weeks after getting diagnosed with cancer. Yesterday, I watched a video montage that her parents played at her funeral. I bawled and bawled and my husband finally made me turn it off. Every time I think about it, I think of my daughter and remember to stop and enjoy my kids instead of getting caught up in the stress that is our lives. I love how you phrased it, that you remembered "living life and not getting beaten up by it". I'm going to try to do more living. Great post.

Cairo Typ0 said...

I kind of like the idea of those other me's residing inside of me. :)

Ginny Marie said...

That's such a great way to explain birthdays. That's exactly how I felt when I turned 40 a few weeks ago. It also explains, in a way, how events such as the loss of a loved one, or getting breast cancer, will always be a part of you. Congratulations on being three years cancer free!

smiles4u said...

I love this post on change! I really love this statement" So, no matter how busy things seem, the yield sign starts flashing and I leave busy for a few minutes and do something that will make memories instead of just making a living."
I love this whole concept you talk about here...will have to come back and read it again.
I really love that song and the dance was beautiful.
Thank you for so many great reminders today...just what I needed to think about today!

mo.stoneskin said...

I can't actually see the miniskirt, is it really there?

On a more serious note, thanks for making me think, I know I am not grateful enough for the daily joys, but so often it seems to be about getting through the day.

Just B said...

"Eleven" used to be one of my favorite short stories to teach and I had forgotten about it. She says it so perfectly.

This was a beautiful, poignant post. Thank you for everything it made me think about.

Jack said...

hmmmm, maybe that's why you picked a colour bird that wasn't on the list. You are going to take each day as it comes and make up your own rules as you go along... ;)

Lovely post Pseudo thank you for sharing with us and thanks for the musical interlude - I did exactly as you suggested; sat back, relaxed and enjoyed :)

AngiDe- Nana's Box said...

Hi, I linked over from Life keeps getting weirder..... I noticed that you are a breast cancer survivor. I hope you will come by and check out my blog: Nana's Box!

Angie
Nana's Box

Jan said...

This is wonderful; you are so eloquent! I also like the quotes from Sandra Cisneros.

Given how I've been feeling lately, I must feel 13.

Yup, definitely 13...

Joanie said...

darn, no video on mine. just a big blank space.

I like the way you think, lady!

Joanie said...

It loaded this time. That is lovely! Thank you for sharing it with us!

bernthis said...

My life is due for a big change and I'm scared but everyday I'm more excited. I do believe that ultimately you make the journey alone, there are those in your life that are there to help keep you on your path.

Susie said...

I always dream about the younger me. I always think that it is the older me trying to heal old wounds:-)

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such sweet comments. I hope to see you back there soon:-)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

To all of you who remarked that you like the idea of our younger selves residing inside of us, so do I and I guess that is one of the reasons I always liked this story by Cisneros. Especially those Russian dolls that have all the smaller ones under each layer.

Change is scary. and wonderful...and scary...

At work I am having to bring out the tough me, the bitch me, the me that does ot take any shit. Not talking about the students even, but a parent issue and some odd events.

Robin said...

Oh, this post is so timely for me, thank you for writing it. Just today I was looking at the calendar and saying where the hell did February go? I feel like I spend each day just trying to get through it and on to the next one, run the errands at lunch, do the after work meeting/networking event/additional errand, answer the emails, etc. etc. and wake up and do it again tomorrow. I'm not living my life, I'm just managing my calendar and where is the fun in that?

thistle said...

another breathtaking spin...i am always in awe of your ability to articulate the things that we are all experiencing...but don't know how to express. This was...once again...Fabulous!

Fragrant Liar said...

How timely your post is, Pseudo. I am always mulling over my age and the way life sometimes to be getting away from me. I do like the idea that whatever age we are, we are also all of the ages that came before. Right now, I'm feeling rather 22. Kind of lonely cuz my family isn't around. (They all went to Disneyworld . . .)

One thing I have done for the past ten years or so is treat my three-year-old self, the one who was molested, to whatever she would like to have or do, just to remind her that she is and always has been special and worthy. Sometimes I even hug me to press home the point.

Sunny said...

That's what people should do at 25. Thank you for this flashback, your youth was amazing.

only a movie said...

Oh Pseudo, this is so gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your younger antics and thank you for the video and I love love love the Cisneros quote.

When I am having a hard time with an adult (at work or elsewhere), I often try to remind myself that maybe they are just showing me their 5 year old self. I helps me remember to be compassionate toward the blindingly ignorant and annoying middle-aged person.

I will come back for the video rewind. Love this song. Thanks!!!

McEwens said...

FIRST, I am so excited for you and your family for next month and the three year milestone!!! That is SO very awesome!

I love the thoughts of when you are 10 you are also 9... never thought of it like that!

ENJOY your day! Some friends and I are off to cook and serve at a womens shelter!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

You've got my all in a puddle this morning, Pseudo. Great spin. I think this is something we all need to remind ourselves. Simply to live our lives and not just spin our wheels. Bravo! Love the video. I may just have to make this my relaxation video. Beautiful.

Vodka Mom said...

Hey lady! When the teacher gives an order, I LISTEN!!!

Vodka Mom said...

and if I had more than TWO minutes before the kids came back, I would read your damn post.

Tricia said...

This is a beautiful post, and inspiring. I need to remind myself, often, to stay centered. Thanks for doing it for me today! And congratulations on the three-year anniversary coming up!!

Bex said...

"I leave busy for a few minutes and do something that will make memories instead of just making a living."

what a beautiful post! you are an amazing writer. you managed to write so beautifully about your very own life. writing about pretend lives is so much easier. you are very good.

shameless plug: why don't you post some of those pictures for a new meme called funky foto flashback?

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Beautiful Spin! So inspired!

Kristan said...

Lovely. I so enjoyed reading about all the former you's. Makes me appreciate the current you even more, and makes me wonder what other me's I'll be. :)

starrlife said...

Oh Pseudo- how beautiful those thoughts and song are! Thank you so much- I might just have to do a link to this one. Our friends 21/2 year old died recently and you made me cry again. Congrats- I'm so happy for the three year mark and to have met you!

Braja said...

Happy 3 yrs...you're wonderful :) Loved this post....

FrankandMary said...

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion ~ In so many ways, yes.
I've read the whole quote before & largely forgot it, thank you for bringing it back to me.
~Mary

Vodka Mom said...

and, if I could pay ATTENTION for longer than two minutes, I would have read the above post. I cannot sit still for two minutes, you DO know that, right???
Teachers hated me.

Eric said...

I actually DID know that people hire pro dancers for their soirees. The first time I had heard about this was when I photographed a very upscale Bar Mitzvah in Oakland, CA. The had hired half a dozen hip-hop dancers to get the kids up and moving.

Captain Dumbass said...

PHST, I think this is the best Spin I've ever read. Thank you.

D'Arcy said...

Change is big. Especially when you start seeing the wrinkles in the morning on a face that has been like a babies bottom. It always evokes a big sigh.

I also had the desire to move to Hawaii while reading this post. I have family living there. Maybe I should at least get out there for a vacation.

nikkicrumpet said...

It sounds like you've had a marvelously rich life so far. And I loved your concept about birthdays...it's so true. Very well written...I enjoyed my visit here.

Debbie said...

Sometimes one of my younger selves is the one one the outside - but other people don't recognize her. That always surprises me.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I didn't think I'd changed on teh outside that much, until I took a close look at the old pictures.

East Coast Wahine said...

This is one of my fave songs and always brings back memories for me! Although born and raised in Hawaii, I haven't lived there in 25 years! Every time I hear this song it takes me back to those younger days of me. Mahalo for posting in my blog...I love reading your blog and added it to my blogroll...

Laufa said...

Beautiful Spin. I love the onion age story and the hula moments. My kids love to look at older pics and ask lots of questions.