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Sunday, September 27, 2009


OK. I'm 60 something. The American dream of getting married and living happily or at least securely thereafter didn't happen. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I followed the script at 22: married my college sweetheart, became a lawyer's wife with two kids and a house in the country in a small, safe town in the Midwest.

At 47, I had another chance for the American dream: a professional career and a second marriage to a charming therapist, ten years my junior.

Now I'm pursing a different reality as a single woman in her 60's. I'm moving to Phoenix after almost four years in Marina del Rey, LA's sailing area known for singles. At this point I thought I'd be approaching a comfortable retirement and enjoying wonderful trips to exotic places along with free time to write, do pottery, and volunteer for worthy causes.

Instead, I'm relocating to a more affordable city to start again. According to the original script, at this age I was looking forward to relaxing in my paid for home, enjoying leisure time and grandchildren.

So it's time for me to take the advice of my philosopher son, "Blaze a trail, Mom. You have before." And, I'm not alone. The majority of the women I know my age are still in search of the dream through Internet dating, singles events, and speed dating...seeking that happy ending.

We are educated, attractive women with no defined role for this unexpected passage. We exercise, play tennis, and pursue hobbies; but mostly we are solitary figures who previously defined ourselves as wives, mothers, and career women. We live longer, look better, and lead active lives only to return to our single lives in apartments and condos.

There's not a prescribed identity or path for single, mature women. We don't fit in the conventional roles of matron or grandmother. Our social life is primarily with other women like ourselves. What is our place now in the tribe?

Sure we've thought about the bag-lady syndrome and worry about getting sick. The stats for remarrying at this stage of life are not promising. There seem to be too few available knights in our age group. Some of us prefer to remain single and free, but most of us still want to relate and be connected.

What are our options? We talk about living together and creating new family units in group houses and modern communes.

As for me, I'm not giving up. It's an adventure far different than what I expected. Today's script is being written by those of us living it. So I'm on the road again with Phoenix as my next destination. Will I find community there? My place? I remain hopeful.

There needs to be a name for this phase of mature women's lives. Post something: postmarriage, postchildren, postcareer. I think we could call it womenpause. I can say I'm going through womenpause.

I have no roadmap and few role models. With the others, I will blaze a trail so the women that follow us will know how to navigate womenpause.

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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