The New Old Me by Meridith Maran

The New Old Me/My Late-Life Reinvention
Meredith Maran
Blue Rider Press

Meredith Maran, self-described in her memoir as “The New Old Me,” focuses attention on the consequences of aging — exclusion and isolation. Her story of a 60-year-old gay woman overcoming grief and entering the modern-day workplace is told with empathy and a touch of humor.

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“. . .  illustrates the reality of aging and accepting loss . . .”

Maran thought she had a good life; she lived in a restored home in old Oakland with a wife she deeply loved and financial security so she could comfortably engage in freelance writing. That all collapsed when her partner sought porce, forcing her to supplement her freelancer income with a full-time job with benefits.  

Fortunately, because of her proven success in the development of sales pitches for several well-known companies, Maran landed a job in marketing with a Los Angles fashion design company writing press releases, copy for booth displays and speeches for her boss. But rather than relief, her new workplace triggered panic. She was older than the employee’s parents, and she half-seriously mused if her benefits included a free burial plot or plastic surgery. To fit in, she manically exercised and underwent botox treatment. But all in vain, because just as she was delighting in her new higher income, enough to buy a home — she lost the job. 

If there is a message in Maran’s story, it is about finding new friendships and reaching out for help. Desperate to connect, she combs social media for “friendship speed daters,” and was rewarded with new relationships, both intimate and personal. Later, after the death of her father and some friends, she seeks support from Al-Anon, not because she had a serious drinking problem, but because sharing with others buoyed her spirits. She writes, “… the notion of praying for redemption on Sunday mornings with a bunch of gay people appeals to me.” 

Written cleanly and crisply, her memoir illustrates the reality of aging and accepting loss, no matter the circumstances around life choices.

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Review by Kate Padilla