Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Old Soul

     I don’t know how it happens, but once in a while there is a young person born with an old soul.  A person whose life experience could not possibly have imparted the wisdom and deep understanding that seems to emanate from a weary, wounded heart mystically carried from another time.  A person whose tastes and preferences are nothing short of antithetical for the present time.  I identify with those people, and for some reason, I am one of those people.  I’ve never fit in with my peers.  As a child, I was more interested in how escrow worked than I was in petty, puerile endeavors like naptime.  I completed two grades in one year so I could graduate high school at age 16, and old people were always attracted to me since I made jokes about “straighten up and fly right”.  The Yankee told me if he believed in reincarnation, he would swear I was once a sailor’s lover from World War II.  My cousin, Fran, told me I belong to another place and time.  And then there’s my friend, Georgia. 

      Georgia and her husband, Tip, are dear friends to The Yankee and me.  They are frequent guests at my dinner parties and we e-mail each other often.  Tip and The Yankee talk about their military stories while Georgia and I talk about Tip and The Yankee.  We are kindred spirits and are alike in every way. 

      Until they say the words, “our grandchildren”. 

      You see, Tip and Georgia are older than my parents.  We have so much in common and enjoy each other’s company that we tend to forget our age differences until words like “grandchildren”, “retirement”, and “40th anniversary” enter the conversation.  I suppose part of the attraction lies in the fact that Georgia is also an old soul.  We converse on a level that erases most age restrictions and our mutual love for black and white movies from Hollywood’s golden era gives us plenty to discuss.  Georgia is about as pragmatic as they come and often shocks me with her sweet, Southern candor.  I remember once mentioning our age difference and her unexpected response was, “Well, Bertha darlin’, y’all need to find you some younger friends.  Tip and I are gonna die one of these days.”  It was a morbid thought, but I couldn’t keep from laughing.  I’m an old soul and there’s nothing I can do about it.

     How are some people “old souls” while others are “young at heart”?  How is it that the young at heart are still skydiving at 90 while the old souls are feeling middle aged at 25?  It’s an odd phenomenon, but it happens often enough that the average Joe knows exactly what you mean when you say, “old soul” or “young at heart”.  I’ve always known to a degree that I was an old soul, but nothing solidified that fact more than when I started a Twitter account.  After I learned some of the basics, I started thinking of people I might like to “follow”.  And that’s when I discovered:

      Almost all of my heroes are dead.

      As I sat at my computer, fingers hovering over the keyboard, the shock of my realization hit me like a stinging slap.  Katharine Hepburn doesn’t have a Twitter account.  Cary Grant doesn’t have a Twitter account.  Neither do Bea Arthur, Phyllis A. Whitney, or Jimmy Stewart.  Oh good golly, they’re all dead!  It may sound odd that the realization had to hit me like that, but I never really thought of my heroes as no longer with us.  Their genius lives on in the brilliant works they left for us to savor, so they always feel close at hand.  As this fact started sinking in, I had to pull myself into the twenty-first century and start finding new heroes. 

      I shared my shocking discovery with Georgia.  She gasped and nodded in understanding as Tip laughed at the both of us.  “Georgia gets our granddaughter to watch those old movies with her.”  Granddaughter.  So Georgia really is older than my mother.  But, no matter.  Our souls are timeless … “timelessly old”, as Tip would say.  Regardless of our physical age difference, we have much in common.  We still laugh at the same jokes, still admire the same brilliant actors and authors, still enjoy a good dark chocolate complimented by a superb red wine.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

      That’s what happens with “old” friends.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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