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WOMEN AGING: WHAT'S NEXT?

I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to escape Chicago winters for the warmer, sunny climes of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. You may have heard of the place. It was voted the #1 best small city to live by Conde Nast Traveler; the secret is out. Damn. My husband and I have rented a casa there for the past ten years and have watched in dismay as prices for everything have skyrocketed, and the number of ex-pats has exploded.


Many of the ex-pats women are widows, divorcees. With a ratio of men to women that favors the men, the chances of older women finding a partner are slim. Still, older women flock to San Miguel to find support, companionship.


So, I am here with a preview of the possibility of what's to come. It's not that I plan on moving to San Miguel. At this point, I don't. But it's both fascinating and sometimes a bit daunting to see older women making a new life for themselves.


It's impressive to watch as women older than I negotiate the cobblestone streets, hills, potholes, and piles of dog shit. Some walk slowly; others use a cane. And, yes, there are many who do just fine, thank you, without slowing down. It always catches me a bit off guard when I see a woman, say, in her late 70s or 80s dressed to the "nines" in colorful Mexican garb, jewelry galore, and more makeup than I've ever worn. Last week, a woman who must have been at least 80 tottered along the side of a swimming pool in cowgirl boots. Her companion used a cane and, for a moment, I was afraid both of them would tumble into the pool for an unwanted swim--even though it was hotter than hell.




I see groups of women congregate for dinner at a restaurant or attend movies together. They walk down the narrow sidewalks single file but keep up a constant banter about what I'm not sure. I find myself staring, looking toward the future and whether this will be the structure of my life, too. I wonder whether younger women will look at me and be thankful that they're not old. Or will they honor my years and experience and desire to share whatever I've learned along the way?


I hope it's the latter!


So, to the older women of San Miguel, hats off to you. You had the guts to move to another country, learn a new language (Well, at least some of you), and put down roots. Your goal is not to find a new partner but to enjoy the company of other, older women. And you've led the way for those of us fast on your heels--or on those colorful cowgirl boots.




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