Roger Angell is a writer, especially know for his sports writing, especially about baseball, and closely associated with The New Yorker magazine, even serving at one time as fiction editor. He is 93 years old. I think he still is. In an article published in The New Yorker a few weeks ago, titled "This Old Man", he writes about his aging body and his continuing, generous relationships with family and friends who give him food and companionship, and his continuing desire for sex. It's an astonishing piece, self-indulgent and also indulgent of him by his New Yorker family. As some of you know, I'm writing a book about aging, a travel memoir since I'm writing about the Country of Age. I've written the first draft so I know what I'm saying and what I still have to deal with, and I can see how I differ from Angell, who is ten years older than I.
Take sex, and you can take it as far away as you like. I was widowed in my early forties (just turned 42) and there is no worse age for a woman to be deprived. I read that women in their 40s have the sex drive of teenage boys and very young men, no aids or stimulants required. (No Aids then, either.) Without a live-in companion/lover I used to pray for the sap to stop running and I was so grateful when it finally did. Angell, apparently, still contemplates it and seems to think it is possible. I won't go there.
But I think my book is going to be for women only. My country of age is gender specific and I must recognize that. Many writers have referred to the country of age but only one, to my knowledge, has been credited with the statement: "The past is a different country. They do things differently there." (L.P. Hartley,1895-1972) Of course, that reminds me of Laurence Sterne's (1713-1768) A Sentimental Journey, in which he says "They arrange things differently..."
We all do. It's a wonder we can communicate with each other. I keep trying.