Thursday, May 28, 2009

About New Older Woman

November 1995

I was suddenly single at 60
I just ended a love affair with a man 20 years my junior
I'm exploring the Internet and making connections with others young in spirit, several of them victorious over illness and adversity
I'm coming to my own place of desperate confrontation and acceptance
Yes, I have been to an Elderhostel. It was a grand experience, but certainly not a place to meet a man. (Photo by Ken Howard)

That was then, this is now
I've been on my own for 15 years, and I love it. My publications currently include, La Jolla Village News, Performances Magazine and occasional publications elsewhere, including Downtown News and North County Times. In addition, I am a much published poet with a chapbook titled Winter Roses, the title poem and others set to music by composer Jake Heggie. They are frequently performed and one has been recorded by two prime-time opera singers, Frederica Von Stade and Susan Graham. 

The first New Older Woman column, February 1996

Sharing 'Ria'

When you go through life with an open countenance, interesting things happen. It was a full-moon morning, and quite obviously the tide had drawn me to the surf, which crashed close to the shore.

At the foot of Grand Avenue I followed my nose south along the boardwalk, toward Mission Beach, watching the myriad shades of green and blue as the waves curled to meet the sand, whitecaps and foam illuminated by the early morning sun.

On the other side of the wall, a huge yellow Caterpillar piled up the seaweed deposited by the foment of high tide.

Also on the sand side of the wall, bundled up against the bluster of early morning, an older man saluted my smile with a wave of his cane.

"Break any of your New Year's resolutions yet?" he asked merrily.

Upon closer inspection the head of his cane was that of a serpent, studded with inlays of darker wood that looked to me like chocolate chips.

"All of them!" I replied. "Did you find any treasure this morning?"

"I'm not out for treasure," he said, "just sharing 'Ria' with others."

"What's Ria?" I asked. He pronounced the first syllable as if it were "rye."
Just then some passersby turned, raised their arms and jubilantly shouted, "Ria!"

"Well, at least they know what 'ria' is," I said.

"It's 'air' spelled backwards," said my new friend. "By the way, everyone calls me Bamboo Ben."

"Okay, Bamboo Ben."

"I was walking alone here one morning, kind of lethargic in the legs, when the idea occurred to me. I said it a few times and it made me feel better. Ever since I've been sharing it with others. Want to try it?"

"Sure," I said.

"It works best if you raise your hands over your head," he said, demonstrating. "Then, inhale deeply and say it."

"Ria!" I shouted at the morning. "Ria!"

"My goodness, you do that well," he said. "You even raised your palms upward."

Ben told me he lives on Beryl Street and was born the year Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated. That would make him 83 by my reckoning.

"I used to be a house painter," Ben said, "but now I just share 'ria' with everyone. Air is the first thing we take in and the last thing we let go of. I'm also the sole member of the SSS."

"The SSS?"

"The Soft Sand Shuffle," he said, smiling. "But you have to come over on this side of the wall to do that. It's hard at first, but there's no hurry."

"I've got all the time in the world," said I, swinging my legs over the wall.

What with the waves, the "ria" Bamboo Ben and the SSS, I realized I felt better than I had in a long time.