Wrinkles are life’s measurable outcome.
I would say my face started visibly aging when I turned 40. (My soul’s age is skipping in a groove somewhere in adolescence.) People were always telling me how young I looked. I’ll throw out a few examples:
1) In our first year of marriage, my husband had a picture of me on his desk. A man in his office picked up the photo and said, “You’ve got a good lookin’ daughter there”. My husband and I were both 25 at the time. My picture disappeared from his office that day and hasn’t been seen since. Should I be concerned?
2) A cute, little boy came to my door selling honey and asked if my mother was home. I was 37 with three births hanging over my belt. I said, “No” which was the truth and he accepted this and abruptly left. Am I a meany? Indubitably. I’m a money-lacking, honey-hating meany.
3) I got out of my car at the library, just as an older woman was walking up. She looked bewildered and said, “You have a driver’s license?” I’ve chosen to take this as a compliment and have only momentarily considered the alternative, because I know, at first sight, I don’t appear disturbed.
When I boldly stepped up to the big 40, I began to see subtle changes in my appearance everyday. When you pile subtle on subtle, you get my current state. I look in the mirror and being a writer, I’m tempted to start a paragraph on my forehead. Rivulets trickle down through the alarming black trenches that are being dug under my eyes by the evil black trench fairies. I notice people who have ten years on me with chiseled parenthesis further separating their eyebrows. Whenever I encounter someone like this, I wanna grab a sharpie and fill in that blank between the parenthesis with a question mark. I tell myself to relax my forehead and eyebrows repeatedly to avoid looking permanently stern.
I’ve read that a woman must slather her hands with moisturizer and stick them in tube socks overnight to keep them from giving away her age. My hands are a blinking “I’m a shriveled up, apple core of a human being” sign. I haven’t tried the tube sock solution on my head yet, but I think the effects would be more damaging than helpful. With the night sweats I’m experiencing, I might just spontaneously combust and then I’d look like a wrinkled, burn victim.
I catch my hands sneaking up to the skin on my neck which is starting to feel like the texture of raw poultry. I’ve seen people pulling on their own chicken skin and I would strongly advise against this. I know I’m being like a mother who tells her kid who is having oodles of fun making faces that he should stop or his face will stay like that. Someone should do a study. What if it’s true? Do you know what a flap of loose skin, found on roosters, turkeys, some dog and goat varieties, and even some humans, is called? A wattle. Do you want a wattle? I should think not. I’d give up that habitual wattle wiggling before it’s too late.
Do I care enough about the natural decay that I see taking place on my person to book an appointment with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon? I don’t even take off my makeup before going to bed. I’d like my children to be able to go to college. The idea of someone carving my face up with a scalpel reminds me too much of CSI. I think women who use Botox or have plastic surgery done are giving away their age anyway. It looks unnatural. Most movie stars who have it done look worse to me, not better. They fiddle with their eyes, noses, lips, and chins and end up looking like a not so pretty caricature of themselves. Our skin isn’t supposed to be stretched taut. It’s supposed to be supple and soft and eventually weathered and capable of revealing the most nuanced emotions.
There’s nothing wrong with being healthy, taking care of yourself, and trying to look your best, but people are going crazy with the injecting and the cutting. I’ll mention here that I’m in no way an untouched Eve. I spackle on makeup everyday, shave my legs and my pits when I have to, and I’ve had my upper four front teeth done. I’ve succumbed as much as anyone to the message that my appearance isn’t quite good enough for public display. But I’m determined to allow my largest organ, my skin, to age as gracefully or ungracefully as it will.
My husband says he finds older women attractive (good, good). He says they possess an elegance and self-confidence that only comes with age. He says younger women look like children to him. Some of the wisest, most attractive, fun people I know are in their 70’s. Their battle scars, their marks of character, their wrinkles don’t affect my opinion of them. My mother is the most beautiful woman I know. She’s as warm and effervescent as sunshine and people of all ages are drawn to her. We were standing in the bathroom together and she frowned at her reflection and said, “I’m so wrinkled”. I countered her self-accusation by bringing up her age which I won’t share with you. I have no problem sharing my age and I don’t understand why others do. I’m 51 years proud and I’m merrily rolling along to 52 as I write this.
Do people look in the mirror and see their own corpses rather than the regal, worn but winning individuals they are? Do their reflections remind them that they don’t have much time left? Isn’t it perfect that as our beauty fades so does our vision. I’ve decided to look in the mirror with gentleness and kindness, to look past the uneven tone, fine lines, deep creases, and dark circles into my still vibrant soul. The package may be looking a little shabby, but it’s the contents that matter. Only a child plays with the box the gift came in at Christmas. Adults know that the good stuff is on the inside.
Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂