When I’m 80

Last night, Mr. Possibility and I attended the preview party for the new location of the Copacabana. For those of you unfamiliar with the Copa, it’s the iconic nightclub that launched the careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a place frequented by performers like Frank Sinatra, and the inspiration behind Barry Manilow’s song.

Basically, ask your grandparents – or ask me.

After fourteen years of piano lessons, I developed a certain affinity for playing the greats, both classically and the songs bore from the Rat Pack. There is something romantic and beautiful about that period – where love hung on strings and was cherished instead of something we all felt entitled to. I’m sure those in the era worried about finding their match like so many do today, but at least then there was a certain innocence to relationships, and class was still in style.

I was excited about the event because I expected to be brought back to the time of the Copa dancers, to courting, and to dancing that didn’t involve grinding in spandex with bump-its in our hair. Not to my surprise, the crowd was primarily older – I was probably among the youngest in attendance. The food was incredible and bountiful, the music continuous, and the sangria refreshing – but something was missing.

Even with a new location and the same owner, the Copacabana had lost its luster.

Sure, the space was beautiful and I’m sure will attract tourists near-and-far, but that’s the problem. As I sadly reiterated my opinion to Mr. Possibility, he said, “Well, it’s not that time anymore, clubs pop up and have their ride and then they’re gone. We’re onto the next thing.” In the age of over-demand, where everything is simply a thought and a Smartphone away, we don’t grow attached to things as we used to. Even nightclubs that gave some of the best singers their humble beginnings.

Toward the end of the evening, a handful of original Copa dancers, now well over 80, graced the stage and told their story. They each held more enthusiasm individually than the current group of Copa dancers did collectively. You could see, even from far away, the love they had for the Copacabana and for New York. This place symbolized their youth, where they grew into themselves and their sexuality, where they mingled with artists who would become legends. This was part of their story; the Copa was a place that helped define them as girls, and now brightened their eyes as seasoned women.

As Mr. Possibility draped his arms around me and kissed my cheek affectionately, I looked at him and asked, “What will my story be?” I wasn’t looking for a direct answer, he knew that and didn’t give me one other than a few sweet compliments and words of encouragement, but as we walked through Times Square to another bar for some more sangria, I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind:

When I’m 80, how will I view this time in New York? Will I look back and replace all my memories of being flawed as visions of me young, healthy, and beautiful? Will Mr. Possibility be a fleeting face that I call the first man I truly cared for in New York? Will my friends, the ones that took me so long to find in this city, still be my friends then? What will I think of this blog? Or of my writing style as it is right now?

I’ve always imagined myself growing older and one day having the wisdom that only comes from experiences. I see myself still active, still pushing forward, still thinking creatively, if my body allows. Like the majority of Americans who fear being alone, I don’t want to be by myself rocking in a chair on the front porch of an old plantation house in Charleston, but I also want to make sure I have that look.

That look that those Copa dancers had. That look that says, “I’ve lived a good life. I’ve seen many wondrous things. I’ve tried things and tested my limits. I’ve explored my sexuality and what it means to be a woman. I’ve liberated myself and traveled this world and I know this city. I’ve loved and been loved. And I’m here, at my age, to show my face and my cryptic smile that’ll never reveal all of the joys I’ve had with people and places that you’ll never see again or meet.”

Daily gratitude: Today, I’m thankful for the laughs I’ve had to give me the lines that already appearing on my face.

All Hyped Up on Love

Though I may only be a 20-something, I’ve been through quite some pop culture and trends.

I grew up on everything from TGIF, Sister Sister, The Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley, Full House, The Secret World of Alex Mac, Figure it Out, Clarissa Explains it All, and Rugrats to All That, Hey Arnold!, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World. By some strike of fate or stupidity, my mother eventually allowed me to watch MTV and Friends (where I appropriately flooded her with questions), and some ex boyfriends introduced me to shows like Alf, long after they were off the air.

I convinced myself I could sing just like Mandy Moore – breathy and incredibly too dramatic and all. Outside, with that same recorder I used to interview people with, I’d belt out a Mariah Carey with the neighborhood kids, who at one point, all got together and formed a band, The Butterflies. I always wanted to ride places in my dad’s truck because it had one of those new CD players and if I was careful not to scratch them, I could listen to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Temptations, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Jim Croce while we were driving around town. He’d always serenade me with “My Girl” and hearing it still makes me smile today, though I’m positive I prefer his voice over the original. With my belly button visible, I danced in front of the mirror to Britney Spears, I cried over a Backstreet Boys song when Mr. Curls didn’t show up to my seventh grade birthday party, and I lost my virginity to “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boys II Men.

Being an early bloomer who sprouted out of training bras and into the real ones the summer between fifth and sixth grade, I was amazed with my new curves and unsure of what to do with them. I did, however, notice the looks older boys gave me. So did my mother. I can’t count how many times she left me at home because I refused to change into something more age appropriate, and then I’d call her on her cell phone that was the size of my forearm, and beg her to come back and get me in my jeans and unflattering t-shirt. I wore the platform shoes like The Spice Girls, I braided my hair with a colored strand, I wore glitter on my eyes, and though I thought Abercrombie was cool, even at a young age, I realized how ridiculously overpriced it was. I also didn’t enjoy being choked to death by cologne ten steps before the store front.

I lived, breathed, and loved all of these hypes.

They came, they served a purpose, and they left. I was onto the next band, the next technology, the next style that would fade faster than I could begin to afford it. It took until junior year in college for me to stop caring so much about hypes or what’s hot and to focus more on what I wanted instead of what was new.

This week, to keep my spirits up and to lower my peeking stress level, I’ve been listening to 80’s music. I wasn’t alive in the early 80’s, but some of my youngest memories involve my mom dancing in hot shorts to Michael Jackson or Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy” while cleaning. Because my office is in the process of moving, we’re all packing up and my “You Make My Dreams Come True” Pandora station proved to be exactly what we needed. As the songs were playing, I’d notice how certain songs remind me of men I’ve loved or guys who have introduced me to a band I didn’t know. Some of the other women in the office would start singing and then proclaim who they were dating when that particular song came on. Somehow, the best of the 80’s translates into the best and the worse of men of the 80’s for those who lived through it – or discovered the music later on.

Listening to the stories while pouring what I owned into a large Staples cardboard box, I wondered if love is one continuous hype.

We’re sucked in early with fairytales and if we’re lucky, by watching our parents verbalize their admiration for one another. I didn’t really go through the “boys had cooties” phase, I was more concerned with my kindergarten boyfriend, but all of my friends were repulsed by the opposite sex (funny thing is, they’re all married now, and I’m happily not). Once that period comes to a close, we transition into middle school where holding hands and doodling our names with hearts and “forever-ever-and-ever-and-always” seems like the only important thing in the world. High school introduces us to sex, college we have a lot of sex, and in our 20’s we discover what great, incredible sex is, and wonder what we were thinking (or who we were doing) the years previous.

For most, it is one date after another, one relationship after another, one bed and then another, one romance and then ten more. The personalities change, along with the clothes and the mannerisms, but the men essentially are all the same, each time – we get ourselves all hyped up on love. And when it’s good, when it has promise, we’ll go as far to think we’ll never feel it again. That this feeling, whatever it is, is impossible with another man. We’ll get so dead-set on this hype that we’ll become depressed thinking he is the end-all-be-all and we’re doomed if this doesn’t work out…or worse yet, if we screw it up.

If that was the case, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would still be making shows. So would Dawson’s Creek. We’d all still be listening to LFO, eating Dunkaroos, and wearing those god-awful acid-wash jeans (keep in mind Williamsburg is excused from this analogy). We’d all carry mobile phones that don’t fit in our bags and our dial-up internet would greet us with “You’ve Got Mail!”

Things change, so do people. We fall in love and we fall out. We think he’s The One and then we want him to be the one who never comes back. We are addicted to our pair of skinny jeans until our bodies grow some curve, some place, and they don’t fit anymore. We buy into something until it becomes a commodity and we got for a cheaper alternative. Much of life is a hype – but the one thing that remains consistent is me. I’ve been through all the hypes, all the love, all the coming and the going, and I’m still who I am. I’ve adapted and learned, grown up and become a woman, and while I don’t forget the trends I trended through, I realize I’m always going to trend through something.

And if a particular style doesn’t look right on me or a musician doesn’t get me moving, or a man doesn’t hit the spots I need him to hit – I rest easy knowing the next hype is closer than I think.