One molecule at a time, I am aging. Sometimes, if I'm very still I think I feel those youth molecules slipping away. Yesterday I was a new mother. The day before that, a bride. Mere moments before that, a teenager. I didn’t think it would really happen but apparently someone in control had other plans.
Last week I was having coffee and discussing this aging phenomenon with my friend Mary, whom I’ve know since I was 13 years old. Mary and I were born within four days of one another. We look at one another and remember how we both looked nearly 50 years ago. We just shake our heads, wondering how we got to this stage in life so quickly.
First I started seeing the fat cells multiply in new areas, like below my waistline. My former husband only paid me two compliments in 30 years of marriage—he once said I had a nice flat stomach and he told me I had beautiful blue eyes. My eyes are still blue. Despite what I consider a proper diet and sufficient exercise, a little weasel has taken up residence under my skin below my navel. How the hell did that thing crawl under there when I wasn’t looking?
And hormones, those wretched things—when they were raging, I cursed them, hated PMS and menstrual cramps. Now I hate their absence. Hot flashes, sleeplessness, thinning hair, and an inability to concentrate are just a few of the byproducts of menopause. It’s not a joke when it really happens, one drop of estrogen at a time. Soon it’s all gone.
Eyes and ears are in a conspiracy to start failing at the same time. I struggle to thread a needle and I can’t see well at night when I’m driving. I can’t hear my dinner companion in a noisy restaurant. Am I going to take after both my blind father and my deaf mother? Yippee.
Bones, joints, muscles ache. I used to hurt if I lifted something heavy or took a more challenging yoga class. Now I hurt if I walk too much, sit too much, stand too much, or carry a load of laundry up the stairs. Everything is sagging—wrinkles on the corners of my eyes, cheeks sliding off my face, flaps on the back of my arms. Life’s not fair.
My dearest lifelong friends from high school have been plotting a way to cope with this aging nonsense. We're having a mini-conference at my house in the spring to work out the details. At this point the plan involves a pink house by the sea where we'll live communally, a masseur on call, and LSD. Nothing like a bunch of old women on acid trips.
I’ve been discussing this aging thing with God. I pointed out that I would have been perfectly happy to accept status quo with the imperfect 40-year-old body, but this 60-year-old body is not what I had in mind. God, in turn, pointed out to me that I am a human being and he doesn’t make exceptions, plastic surgeons notwithstanding. So I just looked at myself in the mirror and looked up at him and said, “Okay, I get your point, you don’t make exceptions. This is weird though. I didn’t really think you’d do it.” He just smiled knowingly.
So how do I accept this aging thing? I don’t know. I suppose I need much more time to get used to it. Maybe it will be okay. Maybe it will make me laugh, knowing that I am just like everyone else, watching myself get older according to the preordained schedule. Maybe some man will love me for much more than my body. Maybe my kids will still love me and I’ll be a better grandmother because I’ll really look like one.
However, I still think aging is overrated.