We had just been chastised to keep our voices down—this was, after all, a meditation retreat, and we were supposed to be in silence. But my roommates, two 60-something women named Joan and Linda, and I were amped up on late-night (in this context, that’s about 9 p.m.) girl talk. And I was about to receive the most profound insight I would all week, not from the six hours of meditation we did every day, nor from the spiritually rich talks the teachers would give. In fact, what my roommate, Joan, said next counts as one of the great insights of my life. “Jennifer, just wait until you get old,” she said. “Spending a thousand dollars on a Tempurpedic bed is no longer an indulgence, it’s a medical necessity. Getting old is the best!”
She said this without a hint of exhaustion, self-pity, or irony. I thought: She’s right. I can’t wait to get old! And the reason for that went beyond that moment, beyond a Tempurpedic bed—even though I covet that marshmallowy mattress. For the previous few years, I’d been coming to terms with the reality of aging. As I talked to Joan and Linda, however, I realized that perhaps I finally had come to terms with it, and the way I had done it was shockingly simple and inexpensive. As 9 million people underwent cosmetic procedures last year, I did something else. I hung out with older women.