In this memoir about identity and the aging process, a retired professor contemplates different facets of her life.
At the age of 64, Juhasz (A Desire for Women, 2003, etc.) retired as a professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and she suddenly had time to revive old passions, like acting. But when acute arthritis and other physical problems put an end to her stage performances, she realized she was utterly unprepared for the realities of aging. The author found it hard to adjust to a time of life when she was no longer middle-aged but not yet old (she calls it “senior space”). Without the stimulation of daily schedules and interaction with colleagues, she was anxious and depressed. Fortunately, she was able to find new interests, such as learning to sing. Six years after retirement, the insecure feelings remained, but dissecting her past and present helped Juhasz to better understand various aspects of herself. In this cleareyed analysis, she intertwines stories from her life—her youthful aspirations, her family, her search for true love, and her work as an academic—with reflections on being a woman and aging. Though her prose is impeccable, a few of her childhood anecdotes can be tediously familiar. For example, when she was an awkward teenager, she had a fight with her mother and wrote about it in her journal. She uses the journal entry to examine her relationship with her mom. In another eye-glazing account, she talks about the angst of not feeling pretty in high school. Her more compelling stories occur later, such as her discovery of feminism in 1971. Likewise, the pain she felt while searching for love and coming to terms with her lesbian identity is memorably candid. And her assessment of what it means to be a grandmother is both tender and strong: “I am a caregiver: to my grandchild, my daughter, and her family. What I did felt right, and far from questioning it, I was exalted by it.”
An earnest and engaging exploration of aging.