When I was growing up, women turned into old ladies when they hit menopause. They’d put on headdresses and sit on a bench downstairs to gossip, criticize the neighbors, and complain about old age. The Soviet system obliged this mentality by retiring women at 55. Men retired at 60 but their life expectancy was 12 years shorter in peacetime, so the issue of old age was often moot.
This is why talking to Lidia Falcón, who at 85 has more energy and leads a fuller life than many 25-year-olds, was quite an experience. I learned a lot of fascinating stuff and got an invitation to visit the writer when I go to Spain but the most valuable takeaway is that old age begins when you decide it begins. I also really enjoyed how in a long conversation there was no mention of COVID and no complaints about young(er) people.
I also discovered that two of the projects I’m working on and that I walked into seemingly randomly are connected. This has no value for scholarship but it has a lot of value for me.
“I’ll definitely come over for some coffee when I’m in Spain,” I said at the end of the interview.
“Coffee?” Lidia asked. “Umm, I was hoping for something stronger. Maybe even much stronger, you know?”