writing to survive
. . . only the retelling counts

Waiting for this moment to arise

Forty-five.

Forty-five?

Forty-five???!?

I write it down with such chagrin now so I can laugh at myself in a few years.
Forty-five? I’ll say. Please! I was the picture of middle-aged youth, halfway through the forties, but not that close to fifty. Everything still worked pretty well, too.

The first time I bemoaned my rapidly advancing age on the blog was
when I turned 39, and now that time seems like an age of skipping to and fro in gingham frocks with a pair of patent-leather Mary Janes on my feet. Sure, the skipping was a little slow and sad and it wasn’t that long before those hops were punctuated by uncontrollable crying at unpredictable moments throughout the day, but hey! I was younger then, so much younger than today.

Younger and unhappier. Trapped in the tar of the past. The past still has meaning. It always will – it created and shaped me. But it no longer feels like it is the sole definition of who I am and what I am capable of doing. Perhaps, like
Grace, the one who showed me I had wings, feather-light and steel-strong, I am slowly becoming more myself, getting to the essence of who I am.

_____
Image: Me wearing my wings, a wonderful birthday present, care of the lovely Grace. Picture taken by my husband in a rush before he and the boy left the house this morning, then slightly altered by me.

And a shout-out to the Beatles, who provided the title for the post as well as a line within it.
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Crumbling of the facade

As I get older, the men I think are attractive age with me. Give me a lived-in look, spider-webbed networks around the eyes, deep laugh lines, hair gone to gunmetal. What would it be like to hold that rough, scarred hand, sinewy and tough, to listen to the stories of youth gone and hear about the lumps and bumps along the way? Would we have crossed paths back then? Even noticed each other? Not that I’m looking for a hand to hold. I have my own guy who has been by my side for over sixteen years now. We age together, gray hair by gray hair. But a woman can have the occasional actor crush, can’t she? (And if not that actor, definitely this one.)

To me, younger men have the puffy look of unbaked bread, a smooth, glib freshness, which is great when you’re 20, less appealing a lifetime later. There is no danger there, only the rough bumbling of the amateur learning how to live. I wouldn’t go back. I couldn’t. I’ve lived too much and for too long and who wants to, anyway? I am right where I need to be.

But I still haven’t gotten used to this aging thing for myself, to the circles under my eyes and the falling of flesh. The line that cuts between my brows becomes more deeply sculpted with every year, the chin is losing its elasticity. Aging for the ladies is a different prospect than for the menfolk. Fresh-faced and lightly lived in, flaunting the pull of the fecund, youth is the currency women deal in. We have no “distinguished” aging path and as the years accumulate we disintegrate, become ghosts, immaterial, unimportant, unseen.

My British actor crush, Steve Coogan? He’ll be 49 next week. The lingerie model he’s dating is 23. This, apparently, is
how they met, in a quintessentially British “lad magazine” pose, woman as groped accessory. I can see the appeal. She’s beautiful and curvy with a ripple-free countenance and depths that need time to plumb. Why not be with someone young, gorgeous, and unspoiled, especially if you like them, too? Still, at least my other crush, Jon Hamm, has marched past 40 with his lady friend. They’ve been together even longer than I’ve been with my guy. It can be done, even in Hollywood.

It seems to be our fate to slowly fade away. Very few are exempt. And as I stare 45 in the face -- halfway to 50! -- I am nervous about what’s to come. Wouldn’t go back. Don’t know what’s ahead. But I imagine it will involve more crumbling of the facade, a whittling down to the essentials, the concentration of who I am into something real and true.

_____
Image by me, taken last January.
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