My father- in-law was always 100% supportive of his children and grandchildren. They could do no wrong. Once, when he was visiting LA, we came home from a pre-school conference about my elder son. I told my father-in-law what they had said. “He is slightly immature for his age.” My father-in-law slapped his forehead and said, “HE IS FOUR YEARS OLD! What in God’s name do they expect?” The absurdity of it was apparent and we had many laughs about this over the years.
Act One’s Age
My father-in-law passed away sixteen years ago. I miss his support, his excitement about everything, his eagerness to get up and go. And I often wonder, as I pass milestones of aging, just what exactly it does mean to “act one’s age.” I can see what it might mean, at least for me, to appear as one’s age. Sadly, I have given up ruffles, puffed sleeves and cut off shorts. I am impressed with women who can wear stiletto heels. But the several pair I have gather dust in the back of my closet. My vanity calls out at strange moments; glimpsing that person who looks like my mother in a shop window and realizing it is me.
“How have you lived so long?”
Nearly twenty years ago, I volunteered for a theater as mentor project called the Virginia Avenue Project. We took at risk youth to Ojai for two weeks in the summer and created plays with them. A highlight of each summer was visiting Beatrice Wood at her studio in Ojai.
Beatrice Wood was a one hundred year old artist; a woman who had been a painter in Paris in the twenties, a woman who had known Marcel Duchamp and other Dadists; she had been through ups and downs and at the age of forty had found her real calling in life; pottery. She swept into the room with energy and took complete command. She wore countless bracelets and dangling earrings and a red silk shawl. We were surrounded by her art; her paintings, her pottery, the dizzying colors and vibrant forms of her work. “You can ask me anything,” she said.
“How have you lived so long?” said one amazed young girl.
“Handsome men and chocolate, my dear,” she answered. “Listen up now. I’ve heard about this thing called break dancing. Can you show me what it is?”
LOVE NOTE BOWLS: Combining a love of creating and a passion for helping others
Break Dancing At 98
Someone started pounding a beat on the wooden floor. Soon we were all swirling, twirling and making circles on the floor of Beatrice Wood’s studio. The youngest in the room was eight. The oldest was ninety-eight. But in those moments, we were all young at heart.
I was twenty years younger then. I think of that day, and of the life force of Beatrice Wood, so often. In these days of deep challenge, of uncertainty that makes us all vulnerable, I think of the words of Beatrice Wood, “I wanted to know what the world was like, pay any price to understand humanity. I paid the price.”
Kate Fuglei is an actress and singer who divides her time between Studio City and Brooklyn. She has appeared in over forty episodes of television, including most recently in one of the first episodes of STAR TREK/PICARD. She is a published author with two novels based on the lives of the physicist Enrico Fermi and the educator Maria Montessori. The greatest blessing in her life is her marriage to writer Ken LaZebnik and her two sons, Jack LaZebnik and Ben LaZebnik. They inspire her every single day.
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