May 31, 2011
60 B4 60
Sixty Things to Do Before You’re Sixty
SOMEONE ON FACEBOOK
referred to some things she’d accomplished for a project “60 B4 60,” which I interpreted as a bucket list, assuming you kick it at age 60.
I’ve got four years to develop and enact my own list, but my sister better get in gear; she’s got only 28 days to go. Big 6-0 coming up for Cruella in June. Lookin’ good, sis! I guess one could use such a list as a motivator, or as inspiration, or a clarifier of priorities, or a challenge or goal-setter. But if I die before I wake, I’ll have died happy. I don’t think I need one.
I TOOK THESE PICTURES OF MYSELF
with my Yucatan tan in the bathroom mirror so I could look back on them from my 90’s and think, “How young I was!” at only 56.
I LIKE MY LIFE.
I like its pace. Despite my human portion of suffering, drama, unrequited love, hard times and bad luck, I like it more than I ever have. I feel no need to squeeze in stuff I haven’t done because I’ll never get to do everything I want to anyway; mortality knocks, and sooner or later I’ll run out of time, so I just make sure my entire life is something I can live with, Monday through Sunday.
WELCOME TO MY LIFE
I invited my sister-in-law in Philadelphia, who lived in San Diego and loved it, to come out to San Francisco for a visit and fly down to SD with me to see the Streetwise exhibit at the Museum of Photographic Arts. I wrote her an email, subject line: I did the typing for you.
THAT IS HOW I LIVE.
I get it into my head I want to do something, figure out a way to do it, make it happen, and move on. I came back from Cancun late on a Thursday night, then flew to San Diego the next Sunday, last day of the exhibit, on my remaining Virgin points. I wanted to spend the day making the rounds of the Balboa Park museums. I left at 10:00 a.m. for an 11:40 flight, only it turned out my flight from San Francisco was delayed three hours, so I arrived at MOPA at 4:00 p.m., in time to catch the very last hour of the show, take some pictures in the park, turn right around and fly back to San Francisco. I was home by 9:00. Fun day. Check out the Streetwise flickr site and you’ll see lots of my street stuff, me and my buddy Rowan Hunn, among others.
That’s my life. But my sister-in-law is tearing out her hedge and putting in a fence and that is her life. I eliminated such necessities by selling my hedges and fences. It’s not for everyone.
YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN
My guiding light is to be where I am. Friend Marc told me prior to my trip to Cancun that some surrounding cities, like Merida, are worth visiting, and I told him, “If I have a camera around my neck, I don’t care where I am, including a garbage dump.” There is always something to see, observe, learn, experience, and if you’re like me, document. So if you can’t have fresh-from-the-sea ceviche on a Caribbean beach, savor clam chowder in a cold rainy city. Warm your face with the steam, gnaw off some crusty bread and let the butter linger on your tongue. Savor a book in a stuffed chair—say, The Eyre Affair, if you dare. If you’re involved with someone, cherish the boons of companionship. If you have no loved one, enjoy your own company and freedom from compromise.
I LIVE WITHOUT A CAR
because I don’t have to be there, wherever that is. If I can’t get there, I just enjoy here. So instead of thinking ahead, I’ve decided to reflect upon, in no particular order,
SIXTY THINGS I’VE ALREADY DONE BEFORE SIXTY,
because there’s nowhere I’d rather be than propped up in my comfy-as-a-cloud bed surrounded by snoring cats with a MacBook warming my lap, while outside the bay windows, dusk finally darkens into night. The usual lights are on in the apartment building on 14th St. What’s going on in all those yellow squares?
1. CLIMBED THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA AT BADALING
2. Heard an a cappella quartet sing at St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow
6. ATTENDED A YOGA RETREAT IN INCH, COUNTY KERRY, IRELAND
7. Stayed at a castle in Tuscany with a bunch of tarot enthusiasts
11. RODE THE ORIENT EXPRESS FROM VIENNA TO PARIS
12. Rode the Trans-Siberian Express from Beijing through Mongolia to Moscow
16. HAD SEX ON THE BEACH WITH THE TOWN DISGRACE IN YELAPA, MEXICO
17. Seen three Mexican Maria de Guadalupe festivals in San Blas, Guadalajara and Oaxaca
21. GOT TATTOOED WITH THE FAMILY SEAL OF JS BACH IN VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
22. Got tattooed with my motto, Kerouac’s “The road is life,” in Cancun
24. Graduated cum laude with a degree in English from Temple University
26. THREW THREE COINS IN TREVI FOUNTAIN, ROME
27. Been to the Hermitage, the Louvre, Jeu de Paume, the Rijksmuseum, New York MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, SFMOMA, de Young, Legion of Fine Arts, Chicago Art Institute, Gulag Museum in Moscow, many others
31. KISSED THE GRAVES OF JS BACH (Leipzig, [East] Germany) & JACK KEROUAC (Lowell, Mass.)
32. Owned a four-bedroom house in Portland, OR, a fourplex apartment building and two-bedroom cottage in Berkeley, CA and a two-bedroom restored Victorian flat in San Francisco—and sold them all.
36. EARNED A LIVING AT VARIOUS JOBS
37. Was engaged to an ex-con sociopath who died in Arkansas State Penitentiary
41. LOVED VARIOUS MEN, NONE OF IT STUCK
42. Taken innumerable American cross-country train trips between Portland, OR or SF (Emeryville) CA and Philadelphia, PA or New York, NY, and back, including the Empire Builder, (Chicago to Seattle), the [now defunct] Pioneer (Portland to Chicago), the Pacific Surfliner (LA to SD), the Southwest Chief (Chicago to LA), the City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans) the Sunset Limited (Los Angeles to Jacksonvllle, FL [now inoperative] and New Orleans to LA), the Coast Starlight (between LA and SF or Portland), the San Joaquin (Central Valley, CA), the Cascades (from Vancouver BC or Seattle to Portland or SF) the Vermonter (from Philadelphia to Burlington, VT) the Crescent (New Orleans to Philly) also many from Philadelphia or NY to Chicago–the Northeast Regional, the Capitol Limited, the Lake Shore Limited, the Keystone, the Pennsylvanian, the Cardinal, the Empire Service, the Maple Leaf. I think that’s it. My favorite: the now defunct Pioneer. Current: California Zephyr or Empire Builder.
45. FLIRTED WITH A FINNISH BORDER CROSSING GUARD
46. Cared for beautiful cats now on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge: Skagit (acquired in Anacortes, Skagit County, Washington), Judah (acquired while shopping for goldfish in Portland), Dan (unsolicited gift); Taxi (stray who left in a huff when I adopted Jackson) Betty (disappeared), Jackson (my soul cat)
50. SCREAMED MY LUNGS OUT ON THE HURRICANE DECK AT NIAGARA FALLS
51. Taken showers at George’s house in Laurel Canyon, with water pressure not unlike the Hurricane Deck at Niagara Falls
55. CAN SPEAK HALTING CONVERSATIONAL LITHUANIAN
55. Can write in French with difficulty
And that’s it for this one.
The author’s tattoo is in her own hand, as replicated by Romeo Beats, Kukulkan Tattoo Studio, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
They say it will rain tonight
The road is life. Will you not travel down it?
copyright Alexandra Jones 2011