Being 70

17 Dec

1511100_10202168937498015_1383949015_nAbout a month ago I met a man in line at Goodwill Outlet (my very favorite place) who made a significant impression on me. We were talking about age. He asked me how old I was and I told him 37. He thought I was younger which for some reason made me blush, his manner of speech was so sweetly forthcoming. I’m in the middle of my projected lifespan and it is wonderful and strange. Noticed recently I’ve an aging neck and I saw today some new lines under my right eye and I realize my skin is getting tired. Strands of hair are silvering. My youth is helplessly slipping. There is no preserving it. I am forced to find the romance in maturation.

The handsome fellow in line next to me asks “How old do you think I am?” I shrug. “I’m 70.” he said.

“Really!” I say. “You don’t look 70. But tell me. What is 70 like?”

“It’s awful.” He said. “So lonely. Friends die or move in with family. People forget you. No one cares about you when you’re old. I’ll tell you. I have stories. I have done it all. Drank, chased women, smoked dope, stole (but never from a person), only been in jail once which is pretty good when you grew up in the hood.  Oh I could tell you stories. I will give you my number. Don’t give me yours but this is my number. You could call me anytime. 4 in the morning.  That’s another thing about being old, you don’t sleep.”

I haven’t called him. But when I sat down to the piano after meeting such an honest fellow, this melody came to me and soon after that, some time sensitive lyrics. Here’s a holiday song, inspired by Billy Ray. You can download it for free here.

70

all alone

all alone

all we learn on our own

how to use what we know on a dime

in the house no one calls

phone is tethered to a wall

I will throw a record on for old times

in my heart there’s a place

you have come before

how come you don’t come anymore?

this room gets so cold

and I’m scared sometimes

but I’ll be fine

I hold a thought of you in place

and when the earth turns its face

colors ache across an icy sky

bittersweet my old friend

it’s the holidays again

suits me like an outgrown lullaby

though we fit together

love I do know better

then to call another living thing mine

we’re not long here staying

only truth is we’re changing

we’ll decide to erode or shine

clouds’ll drift away

nothing stays the same

like seeing for first time

a baby’s cry

turns to a grown man’s smile

leaves to lose and find his way

in the end in the end

all our homeless wandering

reveals the grandeur of a heart’s floor plan

now is when it begins to get good if we can

hold each moment like a lovers hand

it’ll slip away nothing stays the same

the grape lets go of the vine

winter snow makes the water fall

the fruit becomes new wine

all alone all alone

all we learn on our own

what is left after a long hard cry

where are you my old friend

it’s the holidays again

suits me like an outgrown lullaby

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4 Responses to “Being 70”

  1. Alex Schelldorf December 17, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    Call him.

  2. radicaljournalmadamex December 18, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Call him and let him know about the beautiful song!

  3. T. D. Davis December 18, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    Fantastic. Beautiful. Makes me sad for my father.

    I’d call him if I were you.

  4. Lucas J. Draeger December 26, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    Coolest post ever. Isn’t it ironic that we can spend a lot of time at our age, longing for solitude – (at least I do), but I wonder if we really know what we’re wishing for. When you realize how basic a need companionship is, we might as well be saying, “I wish I didn’t have so much oxygen to breathe.”
    Blessings on you, sweet sis.

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