"How old are you?" my friend asks. I stop to calculate. The numeric value of my age has long lost the great significance I once gave it. I no longer store it front and center in my memory the way a ten year old displays a prized baseball trophy. "This is 2014, I was born in 1961, and I haven't had my birthday yet, so I'm 52," I tell her. My friend looks puzzled. My friend is younger. She still knows her age precisely. I grin and shrug. "Once I passed the 50 yard line, I pretty well forgot about my age," I explain.
I'm easily candid about my age, and I have never understood why women my age would lie about it. If I ever were to lie about it, in fact, I'd claim to be much older than I am. I'd much rather hear someone exclaim "I can't believe you're that age!" (as in, "she looks so great for her age!") than to hear, "oh, really....." (as in, "OMG, she's must have done some hard living to look that bad.").
Maybe it's the lack of Botox that inspires my outlook on age. I want to be the age of someone who has earned these wrinkles on my face. I want to be the sage someone who has lived through enough to have earned the permanent furrow in my brow. I want to be the light-hearted someone who has laughed enough to own the crow's feet by my eyes. I want to be the devoted someone who has lost enough sleep nursing grand ideas and cranky babies to explain the dark circles under my eyes. I want to be the lucky someone whose face reflects a Life Well Lived.
I'm not sure what honor I can claim in the loose, crepey skin on my neck, however. It is far more related to gravity than Good Times. I suppose I could become the eccentric madam who wears a fashionable scarf casually draped around her neck, even on the hottest of summer days. Or I can hang my bathroom mirrors higher, so the view of my neck is permanently removed from my sight.
Or I can remind myself how much I loved my Grandmother. She lived to be ninety-five years old, and I loved and admired her until the day she died. I know her face was lined and her neck hung loose, and yet, when I looked at her, I saw only Love. Never once did I look at her lined face and think, "those wrinkles make her look so old! Why doesn't she DO something about those lines?"
Why would she? She was authentically who she was, rarely wearing any makeup or a carefully placed scarf around her neck. And I loved her, just as she was, however she was, at whatever age she was.
Thinking of the way I saw my Grandmother gives me hope that the people about whose opinion of me I care most will see me the way that I saw her. Evolving, not degrading. Radiating, not disintegrating. My best and truest mirror is not hanging on the bathroom wall. It is in the faces of my beloveds. It is there I shall see my true reflection.
On good days, anyway. There will still be "other days" when I catch a candid shot of myself posted by someone else on Facebook, and I'll cringe. And maybe I'll untag myself. And maybe I'll even buy a new tube of concealer.
I hope I forgive myself these simple vanities. I hope remind myself that Beauty lies within and that I see it reflected in the faces of my my beloveds, as I carefully drape that new scarf around my neck....