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Seventy Is the New Twenty, Part II
June 10, 2023

Exposure to new people and new ideas is, for me, one of the delights of travel. It is the hosts and servers in restaurants, clerks in stores, renters of condos, tour guides, manicurists, tattoo artists, and the locals alongside whom I play Pickleball, walk the beach, and shop for groceries, who set the vibe of a place. They are the ones who make me want to return. Or not. I wonder if Chamber of Commerce Presidents realize this.

Oh The People We’ll Meet

One evening at the pickleball courts back in St. Augustine, we met a friendly couple who were longtime residents, but had traveled the world surfing, skiing, studying transcendental meditation, and yoga. She had a beautiful mane of tight, blonde curls, spoke with an Australian accent, and sported a pep that denied the fact of a college-aged daughter. He might best be described as a cute, fifty-something surfer dude with depth and a spirit of playfulness and kindness. 

We popped the ball back and forth and chatted until the lights went out on the courts. They invited us to go for a drink, but it was our bedtime. He urged us to at least go back to our condo and say goodnight to the beach where we might see bioluminescence in the water. Although we didn’t see a glow, we did experience the magic of the oceanside after dark. 

It was on those same Pickleball courts that I met Gary Wells, snowbird from Ohio, author of The Reunion, Coming of Age in the Age of Aquarius, a fun and funny romp through a class reunion of the class of 1969. He’s a retired editor and PR professional and offered to read my manuscript. First, I must dust it off and re-read it myself.

Nothing provides a town with a sprightly hiring pool for her ambassadors, like a university. I found this especially true in Boone and Blowing Rock, NC. One young server enthusiastically recommended her favorite hike, which we took and loved. She was taking a year off from her studies to travel, which she explained was not a popular decision with the adults in her life. As a parent, I get that, but as a believer in wanderlust, I encouraged.

Another young woman excitedly guided us through New Zealand and Australia, from where she had just returned, as she expertly served us lunch. She was as interested in our adventures as we were in hers and we spent the better part of an afternoon at her table as she sold us a bottle of wine and dessert and reminded us to include these two countries to our list. 

While I tried on a pair of jeans in a dressing room of a tiny boutique, BF counseled a young woman on potential avenues beyond her undergrad degree in psychology. I proudly listened through the dressing room curtain as he provided resources and potential avenues. 

About those jeans. It was a Deja vu moment as I realized they were cut exactly like the ones I wore in high school. I snapped a photo and sent it to Denver Daughter for confirmation. She responded, “buy those.” I did. Just as I would have done in my twenties. 

Our yoga and meditation teacher at The Art of Living Retreat Center was a soft woman. Her gray hair was softly swept back. Her voice and clothing, soft, as was her spirit. As we left our second day of two-hour sessions with her, we stopped to thank her for her expert guidance. Turns out, she also heads up the world-wide volunteer program for The Art of Living. We all decided her trading of teaching assignments–just for the two days we were in attendance–was not a coincidence. Perhaps we were meant to meet and perhaps this volunteer program was a potential answer to a question BF and I have thrown out to the Universe. 

Tattoos and Conversational Norms

I sat down on the wooden bench and adjusted my bath towel, joining two women engrossed in conversation, in the steam room at the Art of Living Retreat Center. One, a short Indian woman with shiny, coal-black hair and a thick accent, the other a gorgeous-in-a-Hippie-way woman who had tattoos all over her body. I’m not sure of the protocol of steam-room conversation. Does the new, almost-naked person avoid eye contact and pretend not to hear? Mind her own business? Or is she, by definition of the space, invited to join in?

I joined in. I learned much about the programs and processes at the Center from these two women. I learned the woman whose body was an artist’s canvas, was, in fact, a tattoo artist herself. I told her that her body was beautiful. It was. And it was she who came across the room, the next day in yoga class, to console me when I began to cry as I raised my hand in response to the teacher’s question, “Is anyone leaving to travel home today?”

Then there were the two young men I met at the tattoo establishment in St. Augustine. We sat next to one another watching as BF lay on his stomach as Ralph skillfully guided a needle around the bicycle tires on his right calf. Again, I’m not sure about the conversational protocol in a Tattoo establishment, but I believe it’s a place where “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine” is appropriate.

BF Under the Needle

I proudly displayed my newly emblazoned sign of peace and explained my hope to spread peace wherever and however I can, and to, whenever possible, mimic the playfulness of dolphins. One young man lifted his sleeve to bare a two-week-old image of Icarus, a Greek Mythological figure he had recently commissioned Ralph to tattoo on his inner arm as a reminder to stay humble. He was there to support his friend who was about to memorialize his father who had passed away from a tragic accident just a few months earlier.

They were intrigued by  BF’s story. They could not believe he was seventy years old. One expressed his hope for calves and quads like BF’s, (which were openly displayed in his current position) when he turned seventy. The other responded, “I don’t have quads and calves like that now, and I play college baseball!” This was hyperbole, by the way. 

These two young men, lifelong friends, were impressive. They were polite, engaging, and thoughtful about life. They even seemed interested in what a grandmotherly figure had to say when she told them that perhaps their gift in this lifetime was their friendship. They even posed for a picture with her.

An woman poses for a photo with two young men at a tattoo parlor as they are all their to get new tattoos.
Just me and two young men I met at the Tattoo parlor.

Seventy is the new twenty; oh, the people you’ll meet.

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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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