You don’t understand the cliche, “Getting old is a privilege” until you witness people your age drop dead. Age floats down our body like a feather. It’s a fairy Godmother waving her wand across the body to ensure all of it is touched by aging dust.
Gray hair was my first indicator I’m one step closer to mortality. These random silver strands frosted my dark brown mane, twinkling in the sun to remind me of their presence. I can’t escape time; I am reminded of the passage of years as I study my skin. The sun left souvenir spots; life deposited some small scars from my face to my stomach; my babies have stretched out my belly into what is called a “coin purse.” I used to love my “little pot belly” because Pulp Fiction helped convince me it was sexy, but my tummy’s newfound state is the physical ramification of pregnancy + no exercise + time. Living to see your body age is not only a blessing; it’s proof you’ve made it. Unfortunately, we live in a society which would rather celebrate conventional, photoshop beauty and denounce the value of experience, choosing instead to erase time with plastic surgery.
Sometimes I stare in the mirror a bit too long and get lost in the reflection. Is this what I look like now? I remember thinking at 19, “This is a good time to pause. I look good, I feel good, I want to freeze myself in this moment.” Now my son is almost 14 and I’ve turned 41 but my eyes are still the same.
The wrinkles around my eyes which used to appear only when I smiled now live there permanently. Those bags under my eyes aren’t from a late night out; this is what I look like now. My dad’s face is a roadmap for my wrinkles; I’ve seen a preview of 25 years from now and I look forward to celebrating the gift of days.
My hands still look youthful, or so I thought. On a recent day after a steamy shower, I looked down at them and they seemed unrecognizable. The skin looked red, yet translucent, with mountainous veins revealing the blood pulsing through them.
The neck. I’ve heard other women say, “look at her neck; you can’t hide age on a neck without serious plastic surgery.” My neck, which seemed short when I was an overweight teenager, has revealed itself to be long and silky. However, recently I’ve noticed a deep horizontal line where there previously wasn’t one and the skin around my neck seems looser, like a goose.
I’ve always been fascinated with age and time, and even as a young child, appreciated the speed with which we seem to travel through life. I didn’t need to have my own children to realize I have no control over stopping time or slowing it down. Time is the ultimate God because there is simply no overtaking it. Time runs out for humans.
Does my beauty have an expiration date? A study revealed the optimal time frame for beauty for a woman is at 30 years old. I looked and felt best at 40. More confident than I had ever felt in my skin, I embraced my body’s endurance and strength, it’s awesome ability to heal and repair, and it’s home to the organs which keep me alive.
It’s less than two years later and now I’m noticing chipmunk jowls, deeper crevices and light is more important than ever – in that I’d like to have minimal light when you’re looking at me yet I need bright light for reading a menu. Of course it’s natural for us to lose our sight as we age; we don’t need to see each other with such fine details.
Why are we conditioned with the formula youth = beauty? Age is a perk of life; experience weathers us like a fine leather satchel.