Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'll Always be Younger Than My Friends & Sisters

Of all the intelligent and thought provoking things I've written on this humble blog of mine, I am surprised at the reaction to my "Birthday" post. Delighted and surprised. Always I want to be that thing that irritates you enough to stop and try to figure out what the hell it is that is making you so uncomfortable. If that thing is me, well then, I have done my job.

Like the tag that scratches your neck all day long, the sock that slips off your heel and into your shoe, the tiny fleck of popcorn stuck in your left molar. That is me. I am more than delighted. I am ecstatic. If I knew that it would be this easy, I would have quit dying my hair long ago. Or never have started.

To clarify a few fine points. We are born. We live one year and than we say we are one. But we are starting our second year. So, I am 48 this month, but really I am starting my 49th year. Math always fails me, but the truth never does. That, my dear friends is the truth. We are in our 49th year. Well, you are anyway. I have a few days to go.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Birthday Wishes

Phillies won. Obama won. The stars are in the heavens and everything is all right with the world. I lost in Vegas. I took hundreds of photos and I am featured in exactly four. I am not pleased with the image but it is me as I wrap up the 48th year of my life. I am nearly fifty and I look okay. I look 50. I like the way my smile, nearly unchanged since the photo on my fridge that Uncle Buzzy gave me. I am just one year old and I look nearly the same except my eyes have shrunk and my chin has disappeared. I like the smile because it is devilish and that part of me is unmistakable. It is kept under wraps some of the time but it is there and if anyone would bother to notice, they'd see it too.

The gift I have given myself this year is one of freedom. I cut my hair very short, sort of boyish. I am planning a surprise. I quit dying my hair. Soon I will surprise even myself as the image in the mirror changes from raven to white, or some place in between as the days go by. I've heard dire warnings from close friends and lovers. You will look old. You will look like an old commare. You will look like a grandma, says my sexiest friend, who actually is a grandma.

I spend a lot of time these days peering into the 10X magnifying mirror. I part the spikes in my hair and look at my scalp where the real me struggles to come through. Mostly white, I think, but I can't be sure just yet. I feel excited when I look at my real hair, like something special is happening to my body. A lot like when I first was pregnant and gazed in wonder at the small bump on my lower abdomen.

I feel brave. I wonder why women, myself included, feel so pressured to color their hair. Dark hair doesn't make me any younger and in truth, at this juncture, my value lies less in the way I look and more solidly in what I have accomplished and where I have been. What I have survived, lived through. Flourished.

I feel scary. I am thickening up my skin for the inevitable mistakes people will make. The age I may become in others eyes. Old. I like old. Antiques. Vintage linens. Old photos. Obama and I are the same age. He looks younger.

So then someone told me about Jamie Lee Curtis and the funny thing about it is that I am not much for Hollywood and don't follow pop culture too much but I was always sort of fond of Jamie Lee Curtis since watching "Trading Places". And Cher too, but that's another story. Anyway, Jamie Lee and I are the same age. Exactly actually. We have the same birthday and so I find out that she went gray too. I haven't seen pictures yet, but I know she is very thin and that kind of eliminates the old grandma look. I am not so fortunate.

I am testing myself. Trying to know if I have the confidence to be old in a culture that devalues aging. Wish me luck...