Gero-Punk Adventures: A lot can happen in 15 seconds!


Except for a quick trip to the post office at lunchtime, I’ve been cooped up inside all day, waking up to a big writing project that has been mostly slumbering the past few months. But around 4:00 or so this afternoon Happy-dog decided it was time for our walk, so I put on my green rain boots, red raincoat, and gray stocking cap. At the last minute, as Happy was yanking me out the front door, I decided to grab my binoculars just in case any special birds whom I might want to spy on were out splashing in the rain.

We had just crossed the street at the end of the block, making our way toward the park, when Happy decided to stop and sniff one of his favorite trees. I was in a relaxed state, waiting for him.  I was looking around out from under my green umbrella. Right then, a red truck drove by and I noticed the person in the passenger seat and they noticed me. I suck at the age guessing game, but I’d say she was probably in middle school, maybe 13 years of age or so? She had light brown braids and an open, curious face. She looked right at me, turning her head as the truck drove away so she could continue to look at me. I stood planted under the tree, rotating my head so I could continue to look at her.

I wondered about her, and who the driver of the truck might be. Her father picking her up from an after-school activity? Her grandfather? I thought of the many rides I took in my father’s truck when I was her age, sitting next to him and staring out the window, hoping to see something interesting, to make a connection to the outside world. I remembered how desperately I wished to escape, to be a girl of the world, how as a girl this lonely longing  often left me feeling a confusing mixture of fear and wonderment.

I wondered if perhaps the unapologetic intensity of her gaze upon me was because of my rainy walking outfit, my bright boots and jacket and hat and umbrella. Or maybe she spotted my binoculars, perhaps she’s secretly a birdwatcher and recognized me as a fellow bird-girl. I wondered what she’d think of the owl tattoo on the inside of my right wrist (I wonder what she’d say if I told her about how I recently got it, right after my 49th birthday, to commemorate my Gramma Jewell’s death and celebrate the start of my 50th year.).

I wondered if she, like me, had heard the news of the British actor Alan Rickman’s death and was missing him and Severus Snape.  I wondered if she, like me, might make a nest on the couch tonight from which to watch Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in tribute to both the real and imagined man.

I wondered if I was attracted to her because she was an echo of my far away past girlhood self. I wondered if she was attracted to me because I was an echo of her far away future woman self.

As the pickup rounded right at the corner, she was still watching me and I was still watching her. Neither of us smiled nor waved but our connection was strong and I felt like something warm and sweet was happening. And then, as quickly as our relationship started, it came to an end. If the entire relationship lasted for more than 15 seconds, I’d be surprised.


About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past twenty (or more!) years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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3 Responses to Gero-Punk Adventures: A lot can happen in 15 seconds!

  1. Erica says:

    and so much can be said in a short essay, thank you for bringing a ray of light into this sad & rainy day (week!). xo erica

  2. Helen Fern says:

    I love reading your wonderings. So glad to see you back here so often!!

  3. Nicola Bemister says:

    I love what you write. Don’t stop.

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