When I Am Old
by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!
When I first came across this poem, many moons ago, it grabbed a piece of my heart and never let go. I loved it. I love it now. And I decided when I first read it that I wanted to start wearing purple now, figuratively speaking of course, as I do not like the color purple (for clothing, that is) due to the mishaps of an older sister’s hand-me-downs that I had to lie (It doesn’t fit. It’s too scratchy.) to get away from. I wanted pink. I digress, this is not the point right now.
I desired, early on as a mother, to wear my purple now and not be confined by the constructs of shoulds and supposed to’s of adult life. Turns out, I’ve been given this chance, my purple moment of womanly defiance, earlier than I expected.
This morning, I woke to a text chain between my old college roommates (old as in former, not as in chronological age) and discovered I’ve been violating an essential should of the times we live in. I was offered insight into a situation of which I had absolutely zero awareness. A situation whereby some younger ladies (the generation z ones, whatever that is – side note, apparently I’m part of a sub-group – a xennial, neither a millennial or a gen x-er??) have decided we (me and my generation of gal pals) have been making a major faux paus.
That’s right. We’ve been neglecting the rules of the digital world and EMBARRASSING OURSELVES with the wrong emoji for laughing really hard. In fact, the headline read RIP to my stand by…the laughing with tears spurting face.
And so, here we are. The time has come for me to stand my ground and wear my purple earlier than I had anticipated.
Starting now, I will be doubling down on my usage of the laugh/cry emoji, and I will do so proudly, in defiance of these ridiculous rules we face, in the face of the hardships we bear, I will tell this younger generation You can’t define me. You won’t box me in. I’ll use my emojis how I damn well please, and you can’t stop me.
Who knew there were emoji rules and that my favorite emoji would be deemed not cool? Now I’m supposed to use a dang skull head to insinuate “I’m dead.” (Like “I’m dead from laughing so much?” whatever. That phrase does not tickle my fancy.) At all. A skull to mean laughter. Not for this lady.
As I learned via the article attached to one of the texts in the college roomie thread, the pros/cons and shade thrown about using this old fashioned and out of date symbol of “I’m laughing so hard I’m crying” has been going on for a little bit. As is a controversy about side parts in our hair, skinny jeans, and something else I can’t remember. Because I’m old now. And I don’t have enough remaining brain space to care.
Here’s the deal, girls. I’m going to continue to use my cry/laugh face. You know why? Because I don’t give a rat’s ass. Because I’m crazy like that. Because I’m old enough to know wasting any energy or thought space or consideration about such a thing is a futile waste of my limited time and creative space. My mind was blown that there’s some sort of back and forth with younger women offering us mom-aged (super cool and fun, btw) women “advice” about our jeans, hair, and emoji choices.
“Hark,” you wonder, “why are you spending time writing about this, if you don’t care, as you claim? Suspicious.”
I know. It’s a paradox. But I had to do it and I’ll tell you why. I was in a funk. A deep, dark, heavy funk the likes of which I haven’t experienced in a long while. A low, low, LOW funk. Low. Like wouldn’t get out of the shower in the morning low, but that’s a story for another time.
In this present moment, the emoji feud thing made me start LOLing all over the place. Snorting my morning mushroom coffee out my nostrils, in fact. (By the way, one is supposed to use “LOL” in place of the offensive face to declare her amusement. Telling you so you know and don’t make the same mistakes I have so gravely committed.) It made me laugh and it ignited a spark of creative writing in me, and so here we go. Here you go. Here it is, take it or leave it…again…I don’t have the space to worry about what others are thinking about my actions.
I am a nerd and playing with words fills me with joy, so while my son was drawing NHL logos and my daughter was sketching portraits of each of us, I filled my creative space with this little ditty.
Because here we are, in a world filled with a myriad of things to worry about, and there are multiple human beings (I mean, to be a discussion there must be more than one?) using up some particles of our universe debating, deciding and declaring that there are echelons of acceptable when it comes to what digital facial expression we use to express an emotion on the internets.
It made me giggle and it offered me a moment to begin to remember lightness in the world. Imagining a discussion around emoji use helped me to springboard me out of my recent funk. Helped me to shake off the heaviness of the realities of parenting during a flipping year-long- quasi-lockdown. (Yea that’s right. I’ll hyphenate made up words all day long and no one will stop me.) For the record, my kids haven’t been in school since last March. I see memes and things about “Egads, the kids are home again for a month what shall I do!?” and I’m like “A month? HA. Try 11.5.” Alas, again, I digress. I’m all sorts of jumbled over here thinking about this emoji disaster.
Ladies of the gen z times, here’s the thing – I remember a time before the internets, I remember dial up service, I remember the world being a lot smaller and I remember being content without knowing every g.d. thing on the googles and being exposed to every single opinion along with them. I don’t need new internet shoulds and supposed to’s, I have enough of those in my regular life.
So here I am LOLing (or maybe LMAO, who’s to say?!) witnessing an internet fight unfold while I stand by in my purple cape marveling at how humans can continue to discover ways to waste their “one wild and precious life” (to quote the dear Mary Oliver, who I’m quite certain wouldn’t have given a single iota of a thought about an emoji because WORDS HAVE MEANING AND FEELING AND VALUE AND WE ARE LOSING THE MEANING OF WORDS (i.e: amazing but – goodness gracious, digressing again, apologies.)
Anyway. I’ll stand here in my purple clothing with a red hat that doesn’t go, gobbling those samples in shops, sitting on the pavement when I’m tired, and I’ll keep using my old lady emojis with pride. I’ll take it further and pull on a pair of skinny jeans and tall boots when I feel spicy, and I’ll part my hair any old way it parts because Motherhood+Covid has taken away my ability to care about anything that
NEVER MATTERED ANYWAY.