Meredith Maran had been married to the woman of her dreams, living in a gentrifying Oakland, California, neighborhood and making a decent living as an author (of more than a dozen books) and freelance writer. But when her marriage slowly turned toxic and she suffered other personal and financial setbacks, Maran opted for the mother of all do-overs—moving to Los Angeles and taking a job at a clothing company where, at age 60, she became both employee and honorary mom to her younger co-workers. The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention offers a bracing look at the joys and challenges of starting over as an older woman.
Maran starts out couch-surfing in L.A. and struggling to connect, but her writing career has given her a rich network of contacts that she mines like a pro for companionship and wise counsel. Once a fervent political activist, she now spends time in La-La Land supplementing companywide workout days with personal training sessions and exploring the world of nips, tucks and waxing fore and aft. Despite her hopes for reconciliation with her wife, their marriage ends in divorce and Maran begins exploring the world of online dating.
The copywriting job she moves south for borders on L.A. cliché, from nude weigh-ins with body-fat calipers to the rocket science employed to estimate driving distance from the office to anywhere else in town. These are some of the book’s funniest scenes, but the friends she makes at work become part of her tribe as well.
The observations here are sharp and witty; used to living under “the whip of freelance insecurity,” Maran awkwardly relaxes into a far better funded existence. No longer struggling to build a family, career or marriage, she delights in the freedom to have more fun, noting, “I’m not building anything anymore, except bone density if I’m lucky.”
The New Old Me is a smart, funny testament to the value of friendships old and new, and the ways they help us adapt to the inevitability of change.