Just be yourself.
My biggest aging fear is not wrinkles, or sagging skin; it’s not memory loss, or finding the music too damned loud. My biggest aging fear is losing myself in a decade. I’m afraid I’ll spend a steady amount of years successful and happy and as the times a’change, I won’t be able to change with them. This decade will define me and I will be old and sad; so profoundly sad. I will hold so tight to the way I looked and behaved during those years that I will forget how to adapt.
It is lovely to hold on to a thing or two from your past. I was in high school during the whole school girl knee-socks & pleated-skirt phenomenon. My Mom hated the look and wouldn’t let me wear it. Now, because I’m eccentric and don’t look my age, I am taking advantage of that lost time and totally wearing a version of the trend. That’s fine! Rock on! Picking and choosing an appealing trend from decades past to repeat is a fantastic fashion choice. What I haven’t done is totally adapt my wardrobe to resemble that of a 17 year old girl in 1995. That would be sad. Not because I committed to a trend. I know plenty of women who commit themselves to dressing in entirely retro clothing and their dedication is an inspiration. However, if I dressed entirely in clothing from my teen years, I wouldn’t be dedicating myself to a look, I would be trapping myself in my past.
Here’s Don, it’s almost 1968, and aside from the clothing Megan dresses him in during their vacation, he looks like an older version of Don circa 1960. Last season Don turned off a psychedelic Beatles album after a short listen, was hurt when Megan rejected his favourite iced dessert, and furrowed his brow disapprovingly at a young girl backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. Don will smoke weed because he’s down for whatever, but would never seek out the current era’s drug of choice. Don is sleeping with a woman whose kid is in college. Don looks like the Ken doll Sally played with back when she was Thally Draper.
Even Don’s idea of the profundity of love is somehow antiquated. He is starwort, verbose only when overwhelmed with his distaste at the way the world around him is moving. When on a decadent Hawaiian vacation he won’t even speak unless he finds someone who wants him to reminisce and treat him like a wise older man. When he discovers later, that the man he shared a spontaneous and profound experience with had a youthful catchy phrase engraved on the lighter that Don accidentally ended up with, Don rejected the experience, discarded it, refused the connection. The first 10 minutes of the sixth season premiere reveal Don in various scenes looking bewildered and bemused. His slight brow furrow, his small tight smile hiding, what we see as the episode progresses, a deep sadness; a death wish; a curiosity about our inevitable end. It feels as if he just wants it to be over.
There’s such a disconnect between Don and everyone around him. He can exchange words, laugh at a joke, make love to his wife, make love to another man’s wife, but everything is on the surface, and he’s just waiting for the ocean to swallow him whole. The only thought that seems to consume him is whether he’ll let the ocean find him, or if he’ll shed all the various skins he’s cloaked himself in and wander into the abyss himself, leave everything behind without anyone ever really knowing who lived at his center. All we’ll know is that Don felt safe in the glamour he wore in 1960.