Unexpected memories from childhood occasionally surface without warning: the barely perceptible milky fragrance of a buttercup, surprising strength of an orange salamander squirming in my child-sized palm, gritty sand in my teeth as I bite into an egg-salad sandwich on the beach. I cherish these delightful glimpses into yesterday, revisiting a time when forever-and-a-day was a promise.
I experienced another sensile memory blast when I fell off of my bicycle this afternoon after being side-swiped by a more experienced cyclist. Just as when I was seven years old, pebbles lodged in my bleeding right knee which poked through torn leggings. My right palm was scraped and oozing as well, pain rhythmically throbbed inside my rapidly swelling wrist. There were a few differences between childhood accidents and today’s clumsy collision:
1. Landing on grandmotherly bones at my current weight is a recipe for splints and ice packs. No amount of boo-boo kissing and cups of hot cocoa can soothe the brutality of such an accident.
2. The knee I landed on is a recent gift, courtesy of Hadassah University Hospital. I felt titanium plates and screws struggling to remain in place.
3. My 89-year-old mother will not sit me on her lap and let me select the color plaster I’d like. She’s more likely say, “What the hell were you doing on a bicycle at your age? Are you insane?!?!?!”
As the year 2018 draws to a close, I can sheepishly admit that my behavior continues to be age-inappropriate. Just the other evening I used my government issued geezer-card to see Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in “A Star is Born.” Tuesday is Senior Discount Day in Israeli movie theaters and the husband and I felt ready for adventure. Only ten shekels a person and discount coupons for popcorn and ice-cream!
There was one couple in the small theatre under forty. Everyone else was post-retirement and, despite unseasonaly balmy Middle Eastern weather, dressed for a blizzard. My husband, who is a bit older than me, asked the management to turn up the heat and I cringed with embarrassment. I’d rather lose toes to frostbite than admit a faulty inner-thermostat. People kept crawling over our feet to go to the bathroom during the film, and even though I, too, had enjoyed a large soda, I refused to budge lest someone confuse my aged-bladder with those of other, feeble individuals.
Still, when the post-film credits began rolling, I leaped over several still-stationary electric wheelchairs and walkers and made a beeline for the powder room. Once relieved, I jauntily walked to meet my husband, adding a tad more bounce than necessary to deflect any outside opinions that I might belong to the same generation as other movie-goers.
Standing in line for our discounted two scoops, the husband pointed out several men he knew from his yeshiva days. With every third sentence he muttered, “He looks terrible! Do I look that old?” On cue I responded, “Nah. You look great!”
My knee is turning colors and resembles an extra-large falafel in pita. Nevertheless, I plan to ride again this week, traversing the hills and valleys of my beloved Jerusalem. If I must age (better than the alternative), “grace” will have nothing to do with it. My doterage will be raucous, ten-speed, extra-spicy and fun. And if bandages and ice-packs are part of the program, that’s fine.
I’ll just be certain to carry my Disability Pass and Pensioner ID in my backpack at all times because the skydiving instructor might ask to see them.
ANDREA SIMANTOV IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.