Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Soul Can Be Your Grandmother

Photo and Lettering by Stephanie Smelyansky
I was born with the soul of an Iris Apfel-style granny. While I’m not as outwards with my incessant love for costume jewelry and all things kitsch, I feel like I embody the same subtle IDGAF attitude as my favorite old ladies. That is to say, I frequently didn’t fit in with my own cohort and I’ve rarely cared to remedy that.
Let me illustrate my point. When I go to the movies, I habitually make the same two mistakes. The first is that I go to the matinee show, which is crowded with adorable old couples and lacking in any sort of teen scene. The second is my choice in movies. Excluding the occasional broke hipster from a local university in the corner, I’m usually the youngest person in the movie theater by a good forty years. (This was further exaggerated at a showing of “The Exotic Marigold Hotel,” at which I was the only person without a cane/walker/wheelchair.) Quite frankly, I don’t mind; I like my quiet, sassy old people.
Deep down I’ve always felt older than I really was. I love anything vintage or reminiscent of earlier centuries. My taste in music and film, while incredibly modern, also includes opera, classical music, and Charlie Chaplin movies. I voraciously read Jane Austen novels and I can’t use technology to save my life. And while my acquaintances might want to go out and party, I often want to stay at home with a small group of friends, playing board games or baking.

It didn’t take me long to come to terms with my premature oldness because I found friends who were just as old at heart. I have friends that go see Woody Allen films with me, obsess over Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess, decorate their rooms with Dolores Umbridge cats and pause their days for afternoon tea. Our brains run on a common wavelength, one tuned to a radio from the 1950s. We’re not alone in our old youngness.
The thing is that being young at heart doesn’t necessarily mean that we were born in the wrong decade. I would die of frustration as a 1950s housewife nor would I particularly like to have grown up during the Great Depression. Us young grannies find inspiration in decades past, whether that be in lifestyle, fashion, or history, and our inspiration can come from a conglomerate of eras. We sometimes just find past time periods to be more relatable than our current one.
But being a granny at heart isn’t about old-fashioned family values and moth-ball scented sweaters. It’s about living life at a slower pace and living for an internal pleasure, an internal purpose. The inner granny in me lives for the little pleasures in life, like hearing a bird sing outside my window or smelling a batch of freshly baked brownies. I’m more concerned with doing things because they make me happy rather than to please a crowd, and so are lots of my friends.
I think we can all benefit from taking a tip or two from a well-loved grandmother. It might take us 70 years to reach their level of wisdom, but emulating their surprisingly lifestyle doesn’t have to take as long. The lesson all grandmothers teach us is to be comfortable in our own skin and and find happiness in the little things in life. This counteracts the typical culture of mass-consumerism and hate-mongering endemic to many of us today, as pointed out by Rookie Mag Editor Tavi Gevinson. I’m not trying to sound hokey, but the grandmother aesthetic focuses on loving yourself and others. That love’s missing from our lives, and it wouldn’t hurt to emulate it. Besides, why not be a grandmother when you can do it with the effortless class of Joan Didion?

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