My body is telling me to slow down,
even while my mind says go, go, go.
When was the last time I climbed a
tree, a favorite younger pastime? Now I simply admire them and the
birds that flit from Shore Pine to Western Hemlock to Ornamental
Cherry. It’s funny how I thought I missed certain activities and
now I’m grateful I don’t have to do them any more.
I loved to run—to sprint. To run away
when being bullied and just to run when I was confused or depressed
or anxious. Can’t do that with fake knees. Instead, this Saturday
I’m walking my first whopping 5K run to benefit our local chapter
of N.O.W. I even get a bib! Rather than pout because I can’t join
the actual runners, I’m grateful to walk nearly pain free again.
I’m also grateful to N.O.W. for its emphatic inclusiveness and to
our little PFLAG group. We may not have a gay pride parade in this
little town, but with their support, I no longer need to run
anywhere. I’m already at the edge of the continent and I’m not
about turn tail.
PFLAG does join the July Fourth La Di
Dah Parade a few towns away and has one of the largest presences in
it. The first time I attended this event I stood next to a pot belly
pig on a leash and then we watched the parade together. That’s the
kind of town it is.
Usually I march in our neighborhood
parade. I may not be as agile as I was, but I never got to be in a
parade when I was more able. Our event includes people on
patriotically festooned walkers, mobility scooters, aging pets in
strollers, and this year—a batch of senior tricycles!
I do miss my bike. Once upon a time I
practically lived on it. I ride an exercycle indoors, but have qualms
about my balance, and am content—almost—with fond memories of my
English racers. Part of me wants to join the outlaw tricycle gang on
the Fourth. Part of me is still too proud to make the shift from bike
Heck, with not one, but two rotator
cuff tears I can’t even hit a pink Spaldeen ball off a handball
court wall. Or serve a tennis ball. Or spike a volleyball.
I can still dress like a tomboy. A
butch tomboy anyway. My sweetheart was a femme tomboy. They grow up
to be sporty femmes. It makes life easier when you marry a tomboy of
any persuasion because she’s not afraid to tackle a garden project
and can catch anything you toss her across the room. My sporty femme
was the catcher on her softball team. With my weight limit of twenty
pounds she also handles the heavy lifting. It’s kind of
discouraging as I still have tomboy energy and worry that she’ll
Although even the energy is flagging.
Travel wipes me out for a couple of months. The spirit is willing,
but the flesh pays for it afterward.
Falling used to be kind of fun, knowing
how, having an elastic body that could leap right up again. Now it’s
a nightmare. Some of the old people in our ‘hood have to call 911
for help to get back up. Knee surgery was a good decision as I’ve
managed to stay upright since that fall in Provincetown five or six
years ago, before the sidewalks on Commercial Street were leveled
out. A younger tomboy would have hopped, skipped and jumped right
along, whistling through her front teeth, showing off her nimbleness.
Pride goeth before a fall. Literally.
Thank goodness I’ve still got tomboy
spirit. My sweetheart likes my tomboy walk. She may sometimes steady
me climbing down rocks to the beach, but I’m still climbing. My
mother didn’t stop clamboring across beach rocks until her late
80s. But then, she didn’t hurt herself as a tomboy of any sort. She
never worked in the grocery business, breaking her back and loving
every minute of scaling dumpsters to make more room by insanely
jumping up and down, flattening the load with her feet. Housework and
pushing a baby carriage were her back breakers. Meh, any good tomboy
would say to that.
Life changes us. Suddenly I have a pale
green thumb. We have a begonia that’s taking over our house
although I’ve given away starts right and left. I even know what a
“start” is. The aloe plant has propagated itself so often we’re
trying to pawn the aloe-ettes off on any sucker who will take them. I
can’t bear to kill a plant.
My physical therapist has not set any
limits on light gardening. Instead of sprinting I’ve been digging.
Instead of biking I’ve been chasing away slugs. Instead of climbing
trees I’ve been planting them.
And instead of running grocery stores
and doing vocational counseling I’m writing—better, I hope, or at
least not rushing through this, my real work.
I don’t row or fish or swim; I don’t
skate or walk to mountain peaks; I haven’t gotten under my car to
do a bit of tinkering for decades or rearranged my office furniture
much (only when my sweetheart’s not looking).
So my question is: I’ll be 70 this
year. Can I still be a tomboy?
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, An
American Queer, is available for pre-order.
You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2015 Lee Lynch.