Chickening Out

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Most of my friends would call me adventurous. I have flown an airplane (once), taken a trapeze lesson (once), jumped off a 35-foot pole (harnessed, but still…).

The reality is I do about 10 brave things and then I do one completely chickenshit thing that makes me question the first 10. This is about a recent chickenshit night.

I had signed up for an (expensive) night in my new town featuring a celebrity chef, food, drinks. I love to cook, and this might just allow me to meet some fellow foodies.

The time came to leave and… I just couldn’t make myself go.

Every day since moving to my new city has been an adventure – finding a place that sells my brand of makeup, finding the kind of turkey I want for Thanksgiving, figuring out how to combine my morning walk to Starbucks with a dogwalk when Starbucks won’t let the dogs in (it involves cajoling strangers to take a slip of paper with my written order along with my gold Starbucks card inside with them…it’s a lot to do pre-caffeinated). The new adventures include walking nearly everywhere because I can and because, really, there is no parking in Charleston that doesn’t involve parallel parking our new car on a narrow street. It has been a joy, honestly.

Except on this night, when I would have killed for a friend to go with me to this event, killed for a big suburban parking garage, killed to know just what one should wear to this kind of event. Just killed for the comfort of the familiar.

And so I bailed. I watched bad television, ate breakfast for dinner, drank a bit too much. Completely hid out.

Because sometimes, the littlest things seem to take the most courage. Ever been in that position? Come on, tell me I’m not the only one who sometimes chickens out.

Haven't we all been chicken?

Haven’t we all been chicken?

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The Oldest Couple at the Jail Break

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Beneath a full moon at Charleston’s oldest jail, the lead singer at the Jail Break festival has a sexy, husky voice and the band has an irresistible rhythm that lures me closer to the stage. In the cool evening, the singer wears a flannel shirt and jeans. When he turns to the rest of the band, I automatically glance at his ass. Because that’s just what I do.

And, you know what? There is no “behind” behind him. His guitar is wider than he is. His jeans sag like a sail on a windless day.  Suddenly I am very concerned about the lead singer’s nutrition, and I want to make him some pasta.

What the heck just happened? How did I go from shimmying near the stage to wanting to mother the singer?

As I look around at the gorgeous young things shaking to the music, I realize that my husband and I are the oldest couple here. There are a handful of others close to our age, but they have sensibly found seats away from the speakers and are eating barbecue. My husband and I are alone, ancient mariners in a sea of bobbing young lovelies.

We stay for a few more songs because the band really is good. And then we go out to dinner, a glass of nice red helping me bridge the gap between groupie and granny.

So, I’m curious…when did you discover your own gap and how have you bridged it?

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STILETTOS NOT REQUIRED

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I bought a black leather motorcycle jacket, so trendy that the fashion magazines have nicknamed it “moto jacket.” It makes me feel badass whenever I slip into its soft embrace.

I do not ride a motorcycle. But I have begun a new journey: semi-retirement in a new city.

What to wear on this trip? I know stilettos are not required, but neither am I ready for Birkenstocks or Crocs. No one knows me here in my new city, and I have the chance to reinvent myself.

It is a much smaller house in Charleston, SC, a funky 1840s single with a tipsy porch and an appalling lack of closet space. Back in northern Virginia, in my big, walk-in closet, I felt like Heidi Klum on Project Runway. Spike heels that drove spikes of pain into the balls of my feet? They’re out — can’t walk on cobblestones in those. Well, maybe just the metal-and-blue ones that always get me noticed. Beautifully-cut business suits in funky colors? Out, save for a couple of tweed jackets that pair well with jeans.

A few hours later, it was clear that I wasn’t just shedding clothes, I was shedding layers of my identity; some of them stung, and some of them clung. Would I really never stride into a client meeting clad in power colors? Would I even need power colors in my new life? Yes, I am retiring, but I am still young. I’m not ready for sensible shoes and a large purse.

So, although I need the closet space desperately, I bought a black leather motorcycle jacket. Because what I needed most of all was to land in my new life feeling badass.

The badass moto jacket

The badass moto jacket