Tomorrow night, I’m going to a town hall meeting on the county budget.
I’m going to speak about my deep belief that older adults are not a priority for local government, that we have been on the back burner so long, the pot has crusted over, its original contents unknown, unknowable. What was once a glorious stew seems to have calcified.
But I look around at my age peers and see the powerhouses they were thirty years ago. Nothing about them has diminished in my mind except the obvious – their hearing, their mobility, their knowledge of contemporary music, you know, the markers of old age. And maybe their tolerance for joining in the scrum of people and interests vying for public dollars. So, I am worried about being the oldest person in the room. This is a common thing for me. I’m used to it.
I was awake a longtime last night thinking about what I would say at the town hall. It’s important that I say something meaningful because I’m in a position of leadership, even, if times, it feels like maneuvering in a pigeonhole. I’m the current chair of our county’s Commission on Aging, so I can’t be a sissy and stay home and watch old episodes of Outlander. I have to show up and I have to talk. No silently taking notes from the tenth row.
As is often the case when facing a potentially stressful situation, my attention turns to attire. I have two serious attitude t-shirts. One that says, “Thinking I was Just an Old Lady was Your First Mistake” and another that says “Underestimate Me. That”ll Be Fun.” It seems childish and not befitting my age to wear a t-shirt with a chippy message, but I am increasingly tired of other people’s expectations of how an old person should act or what an old person should want.
I should maybe take balloons and a kazoo. Wish me luck.