Tag Archives: reality check

Double Exposure

I had the most interesting experience yesterday—it was also enlightening.

On my walk every morning in Hawaii, I pass by the Canoe Club, a private facility for members of Hualalai Club. Yesterday as I chugged up the incline I noticed a photo shoot in session. Since I do the Members Blog, I stopped to take my own picture of this Hualalai happening.

Ah hah, I thought. This is the demographic they aim for: a young woman and a middle-aged man.

I took several photos of the set up and then of the silver haired photographer taking the photo of the couple lounging by the Jacuzzi. I guessed this photo would end up in a magazine, either advertising life style or the swimwear the two wore. I could see the woman was young and beautiful (although I never saw her face). Although I was at a distance from them, the man looked much older than she was.

I left and walked back home, creating a whole story about the modeling session, the models and the photographers. It was a good story with all kinds of judgments and critical assessments. I was happy with the picture I’d taken and the picture I’d created in my mind.

Then last night, I met all of them: the photographer, his assistant and the two models. It was a mind blower! I didn’t want to give up the story I’d woven for the actual reality, but what are you going to do when you’re confronted with the real people?

The man was much younger looking close up than from a distance. The woman looked just how I thought she would even if I’d imagined her.

“So here’s what I thought,” I told them. “Whoever you were shooting for, the demographics were a young woman with an older, successful man.”

“Thanks a lot, I think,” the man said.

“You look much younger, now that I’m meeting you,” I said.

He grinned, looking even more boyish.“ Now that’s good to hear.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

It turned out he was 53 and she was 40.

“Ah, so I wasn’t far off.” I gave them my know-it-all smile.

I told the photographer I’d taken a picture of him photographing the couple. “I hope I framed it well,” I said.

I turned to his assistant. “It was so early this morning it looked like you needed a cup of coffee to keep you awake.”

She looked startled and then gave me an embarrassed smile.

It turned out they were all from Oahu. The man was a teacher who worked with students from the Marshall Islands. I’d worked with students from there the year before when I volunteered at Palamanui Community College, so we chatted for a while.

As my husband and I walked away I said, “I feel like was just in a Woody Allen movie.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember in “Annie Hall” when Marshall McLuhan shows up? That’s how it felt. Kind of like a bent reality.”

As I tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about meeting the real people who’d become figments of my imagination. It was interesting. But also a bit more than unsettling.

The Autumn of My Years: Indian Summer

This morning when I was swinging a bag of trash into the garbage can, two of the landscape guys drove by in their truck. They waved at me enthusiastically and I waved back. I think of them like nephews and give them cookies quite often. When I look at them I see two Hawaiian guys in their thirties—hard workers, strong and conscientious.

As I walked back into the house, I started wondering what they saw when they looked at me. I’m not sure why I went off on this tangent, but once the thought entered my head, I couldn’t let it go. How did they see me? Did they see me, the person I am? Or did they just see an old woman? Which led to the age-old question: who the heck am I, anyway?

I must admit I’d fallen into the trap of believing everything on my driver’s license was true except the birthdate—which is the exact reverse of reality. First of all, the picture hasn’t been changed for at least ten years—no way I look like I’m in my fifties. Then, my height is off—it’s less than the 5’6” recorded. Meanwhile, my weight is more—the weight posted is what I weighed after losing 15 pounds when I had malaria.

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I realized that there was a height issue when I began showing up as the shortest person in all the photos except for my two granddaughters. (Quinn, 12, is gaining on me fast but since Joeli is three, I think I have a little time there.) I guess I’d deluded myself that yoga and Pilates were keeping the space between my vertebra open, but I was beginning to wonder what was up. I mentioned it to my son who put me straight fast: “Mom, quit kidding yourself,” he said. “There’s no way you’re 5’6” anymore.”

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Okay then—so could there be other things I’ve been kidding myself about? Although I feel like I’m 48, I’d already figured out that was impossible as that same son just turned 45. But on the days my knee or back or shoulder or ankle doesn’t hurt, I feel just the same as I did in the twentieth century. Maybe even better.

I am not the same, I know. I look at life differently in the autumn of my years. While it is still my Indian Summer, I believe one of my major jobs in life is to enjoy each day—enjoy it the way I want to enjoy it instead of doing a million things or doing what someone else enjoys. In middle age, I was a multi-tasker extraordinaire. I thrived on it or so I thought. Because in reality, I was always exhausted and at the end of my rope.

It really is much better now. I do less and enjoy it more. This aging phenomena has its rewards!