Saturday, July 18, 2020

Break On Through To The Other Side

When I was younger, I admired old women. Their faces and bodies had gone to pot, but they didn't care. Or didn't act like they cared. That was what I admired. There was no attempt to disguise the age. No spackle, no paint, just jowls swinging like a hammock in the wind, a general corrugation, a cover crop on the upper lip, you name it. And they didn't care.

I knew that was something to aspire to. My first ten years of life, I had no awareness of my physical or sartorial shortcomings. Then, in my adolescence, my peers laid it out in excruciating detail and I was revealed in all my inadequacy. After that, I did care.

It might not have looked like it. I never did get locked into that trap of makeup and hair dye that women can't extricate themselves from. But of course I cared. I had one or two things (two anyway) that worked out for me that I could play up, and some idea what my best angles were, and wanted to look nice in my clothes, although that project never really got off the ground either. If my belly stuck out, I tried to suck it back in.

But look at those old women! Smiling and laughing with their yellow teeth, not a care in the world! I wanted that sense of self-possession. They call it "letting yourself go." Doesn't that sound wonderful? Better than keeping yourself locked up. I wanted to feel what it was like on the other side of their faces.

Well, welcome to the other side of that face. It happens in a hurry. You think you're on the morning commute and something distracts you while you're running for the train and all of a sudden boom you're on the way to Hogwarts. Now you're inside of that old face, looking out.

First of all, it's nice in here. Roomy. All those shits you used to give had a way of tightening things up. Now you can laugh yourself jiggly. You get to care about a lot more things once you don't care what people think of you.

On this side of that face, things that used to be important aren't anymore. They're trivial. All that time you spent thinking you were too fat or too skinny is gone, replaced by "too close to dead."

It never made much sense to mourn the loss of some version of beauty you never lived up to in the first place. Any discomfort in the transition goes away with the realization that there isn't anything you can, or should, do about it. It gets filed away with the other things (not beer) that are a waste of time. Time, like collagen, is what there's not so much of.

And here's your old-lady ace-in-the-hole. That short-term memory thing? It finally kicks in on your behalf. From this side of my face, I forget what I look like. It totally slips my mind. Every now and then I get a sudden glimpse in a store window or I'm ambushed by a stealth mirror and I'm all Holy shit what happened there but then--right away, I forget about it.

34 comments:

  1. Something wonderful happens to some of us women who were not gifted with beauty - at about age 50. Having never had "it", we watch other who lose their "it". Not that we feel gleeful about their loss; but, we don't have the angst of losing "it".

    When we ceased going to the hair groomer place because of COVID-19, we didn't really care about the length of our hair or its color. After all, roots don't show when we don't dye our hair.

    Yes, we are FREE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is true. I have a friend who is exceptionally beautiful and although she never seemed to try to benefit from it, when she started aging it really threw her for a loop.

      Delete
    2. Yes! Fifty was when all my fucks disappeared and I had no more to give!

      Delete
  2. My neck suddenly got thick. Had nailed the belly and figured I knew the drill. Until I woke up with my neck getting throttled by my T-shirt's collar. Oh boy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's nothing. My neck gets throttled by my own neck.

      Delete
  3. I have a sign at my house : I’m just glad wrinkles don’t hurt. I could always see myself as an old woman. White hair, wrinkles, chin hair. It’s the painful knees and hands I didn’t see coming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Virtually pain-free here! But I do notice it isn't as easy to get up off the ground, which one must do if one tips over a lot.

      Delete
    2. Yeah! What's with having to throw a hand (or two) out to get up off the damn floor? What's with thinking about whether we really want to put something on the ground, because then we'll have to bend over to pick it back up? I have a lot more stuff on my counters now.

      Delete
    3. Suddenly, our neighbor's raised beds for tomato plants made more sense.

      Delete
    4. I'm working on a rock path now that is keeping me squatting on my haunches for hours. Yesterday I got up from that and my right knee basically didn't. It's all straightened out now but I'm nervous.

      Delete
  4. Yup.
    And not worrying about a 'beauty' regime gives me a whole lot of time for other more important things. Not to mention being a money saver.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Something that helps throughout life is having light-colored, small-diameter hair. Spend time shaving legs? Nyet! Of course, the tradeoff is that one must draw in eyebrows if one wants some. I must say that I've probably not bothered more than once or twice since early March. Perhaps I am getting slovenly rather than saving time? It's a fine line for me.

      Delete
    2. But what is one saving time for? FaceBooK? Cute cat videos on YouTube? TV? If looking good helps one to feel good, then it is worth the time and money. It may seem unimportant to some, but frankly, when I look into a reflective surface, I like to see something at least resembling what I feel that I look like. Yes, it may involve a little bit of denial, but I prefer that to a brutish reality. I realize that I am in the minority.

      Delete
    3. Maybe on this tiny thread, but not in the world at large. You go!

      Delete
    4. I will add, though, that my strategy of going without makeup means I always look this bad, and that's all anyone expects, so I don't give myself the chance to look worse by forgoing the routine.

      Delete
  5. My hair went away about 40 years ago. I got over it. Sagging and softening is continuing, too, but if I stay in one position too long I stiffen up and not in a good way. I think it's early onset rigor mortis. It's my body's way of preparing me for the inevitable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm gonna steal that phrase from you the next time I get up from a crouch and groan... loudly. Early onset rigor mortis.

      Delete
    2. I'm stealing it too - that's it EXACTLY!

      Delete
    3. I think it's the only "early onset" I still qualify for.

      Delete
  6. Not much of a fan for gloopy stuff on face. Oh, sure, when pancake face stuff was the "in" thing, of course a I tried it.But only til I saw what it did the my sparkling white collar! And spending hours under a thick layer of greasepaint under hot stage lights was another turn-off. I do wear lip stuff;sometimes with colour, but most days just plain lip balm.More money to spend on quality things.Like wine!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Replaced by "too close to dead" ROFL.....

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm right there with you, on my side of my old lady face. Not so many wrinkles, but the jowls are a bit saggy and the skin hanging over my eyelids looks like it got melted in the heat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most of that can be fixed with duck tape.

      Delete
  9. I thought I still had it. Was so pleasantly surprised when the cashier behind the counter was batting her eyes and demurely smiling, flirting. Pulled in my gut, stood a little taller. Then she shyly leaned across the counter, chin down, eyes looking up at me longingly as if to whisper...instead she cupped her hand to her mouth and loudly and slowly enunciated "do. you. need. help. carrying. that. out. sir?"

    ReplyDelete
  10. Vanity does suffer when contemplating being here no more. Which, lately, seems to happen a lot. Still a bit surprised when drawing on said eyebrows (the last regimen to go) by the sight of furrow lines/wrinkles,etc. I keep a picture of me in my prime @ age 45, right next to that mirror, to remind me I did "have it" @ one time..Oh, well. "Beauty fades" is the line from Desperately Seeking Susan...We keep nothing but our mistakes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I came to a jarring reality when I was 24, in the middle of a "makeover" by a beauty product saleswoman, that the "someday" I'd been waiting for (to be better-looking) wasn't going to come. I worried about it a bit until I hit forty, then relaxed. I may not be 'all that" on a daily basis, but I'm never worse for lack of putting on my face, either. What you see is what you get, baby.

    And luckily, my husband tells me he still thinks of me as 40-ish. I'm 63 and counting, so I'll take it :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love this. Thanks for posting it. I am hitting 50 this year and feel so lucky to have no qualms about the old lady hot on my trail- she is me and I am her and I am ok with that. She is funny, smart and beloved. Who am I to complain? I'm a Bubbe now and it's the nicest thing to be. My man loves me and we are aging together.

    I've never been one to fuss over make-up, I don't color my hair, I don't worry about wrinkles. But my 2 closest friends are both considering botox or plastic surgery and I wish they loved their faces as much as I do. I wish they understood that all that energy expended on hiding your age is wasted.

    I wish more of us understood that our value is in our humanity, not in our physical appearance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so agree - am appalled @ how much of our lives are spent fussing over our appearance - are we not more than that ? Just think what we might have contributed to the really big problems in the world...or at least had way more fun !!! Not speaking for you Murr - you had it all along, the fun I mean...and maybe the defiant look of "this is me", get used to it (or go away).

      Delete
  13. SPOT ON to not going down the paths of hair dye, etc. I think it's easier to accept the changes if you're not working so hard to deny and hide them. Much more comfortable, too, but it definitely takes a certain level of confidence to go for it.

    ReplyDelete