Getting older is a tricky business. On the one hand, I’m all like, “Hallelujah, celebrate your lines and wrinkles as the cumulative map of all the experiences you’ve had!” On the other hand, I’m like, “I need a head and body transplant, fucking stat.”
I make fun of celebrities who have transformed themselves into people who are barely recognizable, or look like blow-up sex dolls, but with better hair. I think how terrible it would be to have to rely on my looks to get a job, or to be so vastly insecure that I would have to make sure the world didn’t know how old I was. To be under a magnifying glass like that would make me want to go into a govt. witness protection program and live in a small town in the Northern Alps where people wear those face mask hats.
My audience consists of me. I look in the mirror every day and see the changes. Some days I can manage them with a good attitude. But other days, I scare myself when I see a version of my mother’s face or an old woman who I don’t know, and I use my hands to smooth my skin out for a moment to remind myself of who I am. Of what I am. Of what I’m made of and what I’ve made.
This is the only really satisfying solution I can come up with to the dilemma of aging. Who is it you’ve become, what is it you’ve created, while those crow’s feet were burrowing into your eye area? Was the bliss of basking and frolicking on a sunny beach worth the skin damage (I have to say yes). Would you give up having those kids to be without a c-section scar, to have more Victoria Secret boobs, or fewer worry lines? Would you have cried less as you lost your mother, not spent so much time concentrating on your work, or great books, or museum exhibits, in order to have fewer furrows? Would you have chosen not to laugh so much, just so your face wouldn’t have the creases that come from repetitive guffaws?
Living is a combination of smile-inducing moments that create marionette lines around your mouth, and disastrous days where your face takes on a deep scowl. Our crazy journeys up happy mountains and down into the deepest parts of the valley make our faces what they are. When I view my wrinkles and saggy skin this way, as the trip, I still don’t love them, but I do begin to like them some. And I begin to be a little proud of them, too. And maybe even a little grateful.