Sunday, September 20, 2015

On Aging

Feeling like this is my new topic. You just have so much more time to think about this when your kids are gone. Instead of asking them if they've done their homework or going shopping to keep the frig filled for their unbelievable appetites or filling out the college financial aid forms, you just have all that time to think about getting older. Not like you try. It just happens. Because the fact that they are gone means you are definitely older. I should know. My youngest left home in 2007 when she went to college. So for eight years, I've been thinking about this and I have a lot to say.

There is plenty that just plain sucks about getting old - wait and see all you Gen x-ers. But today, I'm going to talk about when it's really great because that is what I'm thinking about tonight.

Tomorrow I'm heading to NY to work on just the most spectacular happy-making beautiful project, one so sublime I feel like I'm in a movie about a designer working in NY on a Hollywood-worthy home. Now, lucky me....I have so many great clients and projects right now that I could write a blog-post about each and every one of them. Well...maybe not one.

But for this little farm girl from Iowa who wanted to go to New York at eighteen to study fashion or acting but who had no foreseeable way in the world to make that happen, I now feel like I am living that dream - at sixty -two. Yep, sixty-two. Really, I always wanted to live and work in New York. I lived there for a couple years when Lee was teaching and dipped myself so deeply into that ocean of beauty and design that when I was finally asked to do a project there, I could, with modest confidence say, Yes! A holy Yes!

But, this is not all about me. It's about age.

On Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m., I will walk into the site / townhouse on East 78th for a meeting with the two architects from Nate McBride and Assoc. (including Nate and Jack Bales), and three people from the contractor's team including the owner of the company, the project manager and the site supervisor. The contractor is Taconic, and a little bird told me they did Madonna's incredible double townhouse on E. 81st. Nate and Jack have become dear friends; we've pulled at the bones of this project for three years together now. We eat together, drink together, sigh together and solve together. Taconic is newer to me. We've worked on this project for about a year together, but adore what I see. We laugh in our meetings, get good work done, and Artie, the project manager, likes to keep the end in mind. He once said to me, "You know, I don't like to hurry a project at the end. It's always a mistake. I'd rather lose a little money to get it right. No one will remember the money or the extra week five years from now. I want it perfect for the client." Now, this is the attitude of experience.

In August I sat in the room that will soon be the Master Bedroom around a table with all the same people I mention here above as well as Hilary Finn from Hilary Finn Gardens, the landscape designer and Gordon Roth from Roth Painting. At some point, with seven or eight beautiful faces in this circle, I realized that not ONE of them was under fifty! Most were humming along between 55 - 68 if I had to guess.

It was so inspiring to sit with this group of talented people at the top of their game, playing hard, creating a massively complicated thing of beauty for our clients - with quiet confidence that comes from years and years and years of experience with challenging work and that lovely thing called wisdom. Not much ego in the room - outgrown that - just a lot of feeling lucky to be working together in a way that is good for all of us financially and artistically and good for the client in the end.

So, welcome to something past middle age - when you finally have earned what you've worked for, including any reputation that goes with it. A time when you get to hang out with and hopefully work along side other people just like you, people with wisdom, who've listened to the same old music, knew the same old political jokes and shuffled their own kids to the same grand tours of colleges during their Junior year. The familiarity of age is a comfort, a recognition, a shared language that makes the work together a bounty of joy.

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