Remember the days when going away involved putting your out of office on, throwing a toothbrush, some mascara and a pair of clean knicks into a bag and off you went?
In fact, off your youthful limbs ran (with no leaks), a tiny bag thrown over your shoulder, full of excitement and carefree anticipation about the next few days ahead, your only worry being how many CDs you should take for your CD Walkman.
Well alas, those days have long gone if, like me, you are embracing the joy of middle age.
Recently I went away with a few girlfriends (can I still even call them that, or do I have to now say women-friends or worse still, mum-friends). And it highlighted just how, despite feeling as though we’re still those 22 year old girls, we really, really are not.
Serious lists have to be made at this stage of life if I so much as want to leave the house for more than two hours, safe in the knowledge that yes, I am indeed the only one capable of doing anything in this house.
Lists of emergency phone numbers. Lists of after school pick ups. Lists of the kids’ weekend activities. Lists of what food is in the fridge (just in case Mr S.H.I.T. is blinded by the fridge light and can no longer see the food – of which there is enough to last three months just in case he has forgotten where the shops are – perhaps I should have drawn a map…). Lists of things the kids should be doing. Lists of things they shouldn’t be doing and lists of who should wear what and when.
Of course everybody would be absolutely fine without my lists, but lists just make me feel so much better.
The middle aged dilemma of what to take.
It might be hot, cold, snow or rain, therefore clothes for every season are necessary.
Clothes for the day, clothes for night. Ten pairs of pants – just in case. Pjs, hairdryer, winter coat, but what if I overheat and have a hot flush? Best squeeze in the ‘light jacket’ just in case.
And one enormous and very heavy suitcase later and I appear to have packed for a month’s trip to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
When did it happen that we became invisible to the opposite sex?
The nearest we got to a flirtatious exchange was in one restaurant where the twenty-something waiters were clearly on a big fat tip mission. The flirting was so over the top that it was almost slapstick (we kept going back clearly).
The crescendo was when our waiter looked me in the eye and said ‘You are 22? 23?’ to which I spontaneously blushed, until I promptly realised that as I am so obviously much, much older, it was carte blanche to crack this utterly ridiculous gag.
We all still like a drink obviously, but it’s hard to find a bar to drink in these days because there are lots of other people wanting drinks. How dare they? And young people who think nothing of standing all squashed together which they seem to think this is great fun. A nice seat is what we want, where we can hear ourselves think.
Topics of conversation
The menopause being one. Now that’s a whole exciting chapter ahead for us ladies. Could it really only be years away?
Our children. Oh how riveting that conversation would have been twenty years ago.
Getting old. Best line on that subject, “It’s best just to hang out with much older people to make us feel young.” The local old people’s home here we come then.
We need sleep. And eye masks. And very dark rooms. Sleep aids if necessary. How on earth did I ever sleep in hostels when I went travelling, living out of a small rucksack and sleeping in a dorm with 25 other people? I was clearly insane.
But that was then, and life was spontaneous and selfish. And as for now, I may need my lists, my sleep, my entire wardrobe, and I do that weird back and forth thing to read a menu, but I have the best friends, the best laughs, laughter lines to prove it, and I just don’t care what anybody thinks.
I’ll take that any day.