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Former L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon:…

How Do You Feel About Growing Older?

Still miss grammar school, or are you happy to be where you are?

It’s said that the youngest boomers will soon be turning 50.  Funny how AARP stalks you months before your birthday and begins its onslaught of offers designed to make you feel great about being over the hill.

It was a shock to me to get that first piece of mail, and realize that I was now on the back nine of my life, the dark side of the moon.  What now? Could being over 50 be a good thing?  In many ways yes, although I do miss the good old days of growing up.

When we were younger, it seemed we didn’t have a care in the world.  Grammar school was our “job” at the time, and although we had teachers that made our lives miserable, we didn’t have to worry about getting fired, collecting unemployment, or creating a resume.

The worst that could happen is that you were sent to the principal’s office and lectured about how to get along better with your peers. Kiss up to the principal, and soon you could be back in class doing spit wads.

Back then our bodies were like rubber bands, snapping and slinging in so many directions. A fall from the tree? No problem.  You’d get a skinny scab and you’d be good in a day or so, ready to leap tall buildings with a single bound.

At Walter Reed Junior High, our bodies began to change.  Hormones made their entry in the form of pimples, pubic hair and a swoon of moodiness.  Things that never bothered us in grammar school now seemed like national disasters. We cried about boys, being excluded from spin the bottle parties, and not wearing nylons. Still, our bodies were nimble. We had tireless energy for pillow fights, slumber parties and hanging out at hamburger joints. As long as we were with our peers, all was ok.

Then, at NHHS, the short guys finally began to sprout, and every young woman was ripe with promise.  Men began to look at you as if you were a plate of food, with their eyes firmly attached to the anatomy below your chin.  We could stay up until 2 a.m. and still be frisky the next day. We could survive on four hours of sleep.

College kept us cramming for finals, the midnight pizza keeping us afloat. We were in our prime, both mentally and physically. We thought we had all the answers. We didn’t.

Let’s face it-growing older isn’t always pretty, but it does have its advantages. I remember getting my first senior discount at Coco’s when I was out to lunch with some friends.  That $2.22 came in real handy.  Thrift stores often give a 10% discount if you’re a senior, saving you .60 on that jacket that you like. Hey, it all adds up!

Those who have retired know the blessing of not having to be accountable to an angry boss anymore.  If you’re in decent health, there’s a wealth of experience out there for you to enjoy.  Time is now like a blank canvas; it’s yours to fill.

What do you miss about growing up, and how do you feel about getting older?

Feel free to post your comments on the Patch.

Richard Niederberg January 23, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Somehow, we all made it through without the benefit of 'Our Bodies Ourselves' which wasn't published until we were graduating NHHS in 1971. Mary, both you and Teresa, along with most of us, did well with our lifestyle choices we formed at school.
Mary McGrath January 23, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Yes, and thankfully, we're all still in touch with one another. That's a great gift in itself.
Melanie Ball February 17, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Great story Mary! I miss my care free spirit! I still have it to some degree. I do not enjoy the aging process at all. I believe that is why I sometimes exercise to access. I'm thinking I have an outside chance to turn back time. I must admit I have more wisdom and confidence. More life! No wrinkles please!
Mary McGrath February 18, 2013 at 12:44 AM
I hear you Melanie...Exercise is so important for mood elevation, and staying young. Unfortunately, I did it a bit too much, and I've paid the price a bit with some injuries. But, I think I'm better off than most people my age, from what I've heard. Stem cell research is coming of age, which I'm considering, but it's very expensive, and not covered by insurance....Look up prolotherapy and you can read more. Fascinating topic.
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