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In which I turn 70

Aspen, CO ColoradoIt’s so trite to say it, but it seems like a few weeks ago that I wrote a column titled “In which I turn 60 and consider leaving Aspen,” and now here I am 10 years later turning 70!Seventy! Life is like a gigantic slide: you spend the first 25 years laboriously climbing to the top of the ladder and then WHOOSH, faster and faster until you hit the bottom.Ten years ago, considering leaving Aspen, I wrote, “Screw it. Screw the new pretentious Aspen which sucked the life and whimsy out of the old Aspen and put it on the respirator. Screw the cell phones, the $250 fund raisers, the health clubs. The private planes, the designer lettuce.”Screw the planners and the facilitators and the social engineers and the experts and the studies. Screw the bureaucracy and the politicians. Screw paid parking. Screw the cutting edge.”Screw the job, the deadlines, the pressure. Screw it all.”For a minute there I was ready to get out of Dodge, but then I started to think of all of the things I’d miss – my family, my house, my garden, my co-workers – it was a long list.Short though the time has seemed, a lot of water has gone over the dam in the past decade. I almost croaked eight years ago, so there’s a strong feeling that I’m living in extra time.Still, I wish I could come up with a long list of good things about getting old. One thing about old age is that it goes by so fast it doesn’t last very long.My granddaughter Riley said, “The best thing, Su, is that you don’t have to go to school.” Ah, those were the long, boring days! If I wanted to prolong the perception of time I should go back to school or, as I’ve always said, move to New Jersey.Seventy! How the hell did that happen? I was astonished to reach 50. “I can’t be 50,” I thought, and I was right – before I could finish the thought I was 60.And here’s the thing about it: Despite the evidence, I still feel that I am about 30. Despite the fallen thighs, the oxygen, the failing eyesight and worse hearing loss, despite the infirmities and the concomitant pills, pills, pills, despite racing desperately through the alphabet to remember the name of an approaching co-worker, that can’t be me. Really. That crone is an impostor.As for quitting my job and leaving Aspen, I’d rather die at my desk than clean it out, so how could I ever imagine dealing with 42 years’ worth of accumulated crap in the house?My mental list of things I’d miss if I left Aspen has shortened considerably, but the list of reasons to stay put has gotten a lot longer. Topping it is having no attractive alternative. Su Lum is a longtime local who is stuck in Paradise. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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