FROM MY 92-YEAR-OLD GREAT AUNT

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It is her 92nd birthday party but age is just an accessory to her audacious and frank personality that she manages to always wear to the 9′s.

“Jennifer, the boys must be lining up,” My Aunt Rita screams as she lowers her hearing aid. “Remember, date the doctors. A dentist!”

Having been preached this since i turned 13 and was at the Jewish legal age of becoming a woman, you would think i would be hanging around medical schools more often. But, I have learned to nod my head and smile, careful not to shed an ounce of my love life onto the table.

There are some lessons you hear year after year that don’t escape your mind, for the wrong reasons.

“You still want to be a writer? Why don’t you be on TV. You will make more money,” My Aunt says to me before moving on to the next victim.

To be 92. What will still matter to me? Who will be the people who are still in my life? The possessions that I will still hold on to tightly? The things I will still desperately believe in?

I turn to hug my fragile, yet robust and outspoken Great Aunt Rita goodbye and she grabs me. An attempt to politely whisper sweet nothings in my ear turns out to be a blaring public service announcement heard by a block of onlookers. She says, “Everyone wants to live till they are old, but let me tell you, it’s not that great.” She kisses me on the check and enters the passenger seat of the red Mercedes her son has pulled up to the curb for her.

My mouth transformed into what looked like a combination of a lazy smile and a pouty grin. I had no idea how to react or answer that wildly wise piece of advice. So I didn’t say anything. Instead, I found myself on the car ride home making promises to the 92-year-old version of myself.

If I make it to 92 I want it to be because I lived boldly, loved madly, traveled extensively and never settled for anything that was mundane. Because, even at 92, life can still be viewed as short if we didn’t live up to our wildest dreams.

I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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