When someone says they have had the same job for 21 years, you think that is a long time, right? Or married for 21 years. Or wearing the same pair of shoes for 21 years. 21 years sounds like a substantial amount of time. More than two decades. Kids wait to turn 21 so they can drink. Of course, when my kids turned 21, one son celebrated with a siyum — which means he finished learning something of Jewish substantive value — and one son was learning in his yeshiva in Israel. When I turned 21, I tried, unsuccessfully, to have 21 shots of tequila. Enough said. The bottom line is when you hear that something has been going on for over two decades, you think, “Wow, that person is old enough to have been at something for a long time.”
This week, I realized that I will be living in my house for 21 years. Yes, I know I keep using the number 21 — but how is it possible that I have been living in this house for 21 years? Granted, I know my oldest is 22, but I still think I am 17, feel like I am 87 and look like I am — well, I cannot answer that question. When I see people I have known my whole life, I think they look the same, that they haven’t aged at all. I have no idea what people see when they look at me. That I can only imagine. I would be quite fearful to hear what they think they see.
I am becoming more tuned in to notice people who get Botox. They look frightened. I guess it takes some time before your face can move again. But how can someone in their 60s really think that they look like they are in their 30s? Just like how can someone who has been a brunette their whole life think no one notices when they turn blonde? Or gray hair for that matter — I started coloring my hair three years ago because my boys, of all people, my boys who don’t notice when there are chocolate wrappers all over the floor or when the tissue box is empty (what do they end up using when there are no tissues left??), noticed my gray and told me they didn’t really like it. So I started coloring it. No one believes that my hair is naturally without gray. Unless they did — and I am sorry for ruining that for you. (How narcissistic am I??)
Back to the topic. 21 years ago, husband #1, son #1, and a six-week-old son #2 moved into our home. It was very exciting. I had been looking for a house when I was pregnant with son #2. Some houses were ruled out as soon as I walked into the front hallway. If there was a smell, my condition — being with child and with great nausea — immediately ruled it out. The staircase in one house had steps that were shorter in depth than my shoe size. That was a no go. One house had two living rooms — who needs two living rooms? Any house that required more than a fresh coat of paint was ruled out, because I was going to have two kids under the age of two, and even 21 years ago, I had little patience for decorating or remodeling or pretty much anything.
We walked into the house we have been in for — say it with me — 21 years and I knew it was the one. The man who had lived in it was the director of janitorial services at Lincoln Center and the house was spotless. (I could be making up his job title, but it definitely had something to do with keeping Lincoln Center clean.) Needless to say, when he came to visit the house a few months after we had moved in, I thought he was going to have a stroke. And when he saw we put a swing set where his beloved lilac bushes had been, that pretty much sealed the deal that we were never going to see him again. Nice man, though.
21 years. I know we made the right decision. Husband #1 has an overabundance of minyan choices, my boys have made lifelong friends, and I have been through 10 landscapers. It’s all good.
Here’s hoping the next 21 years are filled with only good health and happiness for all of us.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck truly believes that her bangs cover the wrinkles on her forehead. Denial is a very effective river in Egypt.