Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fun Ain't What It Used to Be -- and That's Okay

I used to be fun.

I think that a lot, and sometimes I say it aloud. In a recent email, a friend said it about herself:

“Went to the office Christmas party. Was dragging, then had a Manhattan and perked up. It reminded me that I used to be fun.”

Maybe a bumper sticker is in order? Or even a book?

(Though first I have to write a book called “All Women Are Tired.“ Been threatening to write that one for decades. Too tired.)

Fun. Yes – I remember!

I have dusty memories of testimonials from friends claiming I was fun and even dustier photos showing me being fun. In many of the photos, I am dressed in one costume or another (though I consider all clothing as costumes), probably drinking a bit and definitely dancing a lot.

Not far from where I now sit typing in my jammies is a remnant of those days, a throwback to fun from years gone by. In a bag, high in the closet, is my nine-foot-long feather boa, its shiny black rooster feathers now sparse and definitely bedraggled.

Still, it’s here, which means I wanted to be prepared to have fun when I moved to San Francisco five and a half years ago. In preparation for the move, I got rid of two-thirds of my stuff. I did bring remnants of the fun years, but not long after I settled in, I took most of them to the classiest of the vintage shops on Haight Street and I sold them.

Goodbye to the black silk-lined cape I bought in Sydney; goodbye to the deep purple opera gloves I bought in Paris; goodbye to the velvet clutch purse fronted with a bejeweled peacock I bought in Delhi. All these items came from flea markets and all these items served me well.

“Why are you getting rid of these lovely things?” the shop owner asked.

“Because this is not who I am anymore,” I said. “My life is different now and it’s time for these things to go to others who will enjoy them.” I didn’t say it, but I remember thinking, “I used to be fun.”

I’m not saying I don’t have fun now. I do!

Moving somewhere new at 62 changed so very much about my life, and the new beginning was more than welcome. For instance, I am fascinated with San Francisco’s history and have a shelf of books about this city, which was rowdy then and is rowdy now. Also, every day, things happen in the Bay Area that surprise me, and some of the most astonishing events are part of the natural world.

One day on a road trip to Bolinas, I drove past six turkey vultures perched on a single power line. When a dead humpback whale washed ashore in Pacifica, I went to watch the necropsy. This week a 900-pound pregnant elephant seal charged up out of the water and tried to cross Highway 37. She even attacked a car that got in her way! I’m a fan – and to me, all this counts as great fun.

Because I can, I drive to the edge of the continent often and stare at the sea. It’s always different and I never know what to expect. In addition to watching the ocean steal the land with every wave, I see pelicans, surfers, gulls fighting over garbage, people flying kites. Last week, I saw a guy trying to master his new hoverboard, and wondered whether it would catch fire as I watched. (It did not.)

To me, these trips are fun -- and restorative at the same time.

Of course I still enjoy spending time with friends. I go to parties via Skype with pals in St. Louis, and here I initiated a Full Moon Cocktail group. Four of us go out for drinks and bar food once a month, sometimes even on the night of the full moon. A silky smooth pear martini, a basket of truffle fries and friends to laugh with – that’s my idea of fun!

My family is here and I treasure time spent with all of them, but especially time spent with my grandson, who is almost 4.  We work puzzles, play with cars, interview his stuffed animals about their favorite colors and foods and go on adventures to the zoo and the science museum, where I can teach him about animals and the Earth.

Maybe instead of thinking that I used to be fun, it’s time to admit my definition of fun has changed, and be okay with that.

And maybe – just maybe – tonight when I put on my nicest sweater and my best jeans before I head out for a casual New Year’s Eve dinner party, I will top off my ensemble with that nine-foot-long feather boa.

Wouldn’t that be fun?