From Paris To Ajijic

By Patsi Krakoff


parisWhen I was a young model in Paris, my gal pals and I used to lunch on red wine and imagine our lives as old women. Now that this age thing seems to have happened, in spite of all the risks we took (too much wine, too many drugs, too many men), I remember some of our fantasies…

We’ll be in rocking chairs sharing stories about Jean-Pierre, François and André…

We’ll be scanning the obituaries looking for recently widowed husbands…

We’ll be dating our cosmetic surgeons to avoid the high costs of revisions…

We weren’t necessarily cynical, but old age seemed about as realistic to us as travel to the moon. We thought we’d be living a young carefree life until death struck. And I thought I’d have the same carefree values to boot. How odd that seems today, looking back.

And yet, some days I don’t feel that much different than I was back then. The names of friends have changed, they’ve become older, and the restaurants have changed. Oh, I almost forgot… I’m in Ajijic, not Paris.

The last time I modeled was for a Red Cross benefit in 2003.

Marguerita is my friend, not my drink.

All my drugs come from Walmart.

What’s really odd is that I still see myself as young, an eye-catching beauty who, unfortunately, lives in a house that has poor lighting and mirrors. If I keep the lights low and don’t wear glasses, I’m fine.

I have a high regard for the merits of denial. I’m like my step-mother when she entered a nursing home and asked “How come there’re so many old people here?”

Even though I’m happily married now to a wonderful man, I still see other good-looking men as potential partners… for sharing a few moments of witty repartee. Perhaps the sexual drive has become transformed into some sort of bizarre conversational libido.

Who knows? Who cares? It is what it is.

Anyway, what I started to tell you was about my changing values as I grow older. I spent a very prolonged adolescence in Paris, chasing fun, fame and fortune. It lasted 18 years. For me, youth culminated at age 40 with an existential crisis.

Age 40 was the magical number signifying maturity. I was hit with profound philosophical questions, like, should I still wear jeans out to dinner?

In Paris in the 70s and 80s, a city known for its elegant couture, we models started a trend by showing up at Maxim’s and Regine’s wearing jeans with elegant Yves St. Laurent silk blouses. And of course, a lot of bling from Harry Winston and Dior with Louis Vuitton purses.

I started pondering such questions about the true meaning of life for months after my 40th birthday. Should I marry? Have kids? I had always dated older men. They seemed to have the chateaux, Ferraris and helicopters to take me to the South of France, Greece, and Italy. But something told me my future was elsewhere.

So at age 41 I gave up Dom Perignon (but kept wearing jeans) and went back to my first lover: my books. I started reading fanatically. I went to every film I could see, especially film noir and Philip Marlowe movies.

I studied psychology, literature and hypnotherapy. Finally, I sold my houses in Marbella and Paris, packed my bags and left Europe to go to graduate school in California. I said au revoir to Yves, Harry, Coco, and Louie.

After 18 years in Paris, I returned to my roots, without really understanding why… muttering all the way, that ancient mantra of the Gods…”Who knows? Who cares? It is what it is.”

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