Stranger things are happening. To me. Literally. A Ms It’s Ageing Time Stranger Thing Person has turned up in my bathroom mirror. Seriously. I’ve freaked out a bit. I don’t know her. And she won’t leave. No matter what I do. It’s all rather startling. A bit of a brutal blow. You know what. Ms It’s Ageing Time Stranger Thing Person. You can f*#k off out of my life. I don’t have time for this. Not now.You see I’ve finally made a sort of peace with myself. Well with my younger self. I’ve gotten a lot of stuff sorted. Patched up the bruised and broken bits. I know myself. More clearly. I’m ready to get on with it. With full on living. Then I’m asked to age. Get old. Gracefully. WTF.
It wasn’t my fault that my childhood was a bit screwed up and I had to become a doctor and study psychiatry to sort it all out. I needed time for all that. Get me the latest anti-aging potions. I’ve got shit to do. Important shit. Really important stuff. So I don’t have time for this gracefully aging nonsense.
Once upon a time there was a whole lifetime waiting for me. It seemed to stretch out into the hazy forever. A long languid line winding its way out of the rolling green countryside where I grew up. Towards a distant horizon. It was the future. I trusted it was there. Always. Waiting. Just up ahead. Sometimes I got impatient and hurried on. Desperate to get there. To have a different life.
Other times I dawdled in the in-between. Happy just to be. In that moment. Yet with one eye looking ahead. Gulping down chilled creamy milk while waiting for the sweet lumps of chocolate coalesced at the bottom of the bottle to fall onto my expectant tongue. Always a sense of time stretching. Like the elastic bands we held around our legs and jumped though each playtime.
Then I got busy. Like most women. It was with the usual life stuff. Moving out of home. University days. First overseas trip. The career and becoming a parent balancing thing. Chaotic mornings. Then lingering in the long afternoons. Hanging about to be available on the sidelines of my sons lives. Before the evening rituals began. Regular road trips north for blissful beachside holidays. Woodford music festival each new year. Happy homemaking moments. Trying to be a good enough lover and a generally decent sort of friend. Making moments to nourish heart and body.
Yet in amongst this adulting never quite enough time. The band stretched to full capacity. So it seemed sensible. Necessary. To compromise. At least a little bit. On dreams and hopes and secret desires.
Truth is I didn’t mind. There was much happiness. Yet just a few short years ago it seemed there would be time enough ahead for those other things. The put aside things. It is this stranger thing woman in the mirror that unsettles these assumptions. I don’t like her turning up uninvited. And hanging about. Not one bit.
So I need to tell you this. It’s my birthday. This week. Again. Not sure I’m liking the numbers either. I’m older than my mother was when she died. Imagine that. So I’m thinking about this ageing stuff. Don’t want to. But every morning that stranger is there. She’s being a real pest. Literally moved in to live in my personal mirror. Looking directly at me. Saying yes that’s really you. It’s the time thing. Probably still enough left to master something. But you need to do it now. The 10,000 hours and all that. Use your time today. We all know you’re old enough. You know how to do this. So stop the messing about. You look fine. For goodness sakes. Get out of the bathroom. Scat. Now. Live.
Which turns out to be easier said then done. Especially once you tune in to the obsessing about appearance and invisibility and similar such stuff. Worrying about that crease there. This flab here. And those unsightly veins on the back of your knees. Googling potions and procedures. Lasers and stem cells seem promising. Might have to work more though to pay for it. Having wine to chill out. Instead of doing whatever. Like yoga and weight training. Did I mention that this menopause thing sucks. And that on that same day I found out they’d discontinued my HRT an entitled millennial behind the counter had the hide to ask me if I qualified for some goddamn seniors discount.
Hell no. Not interested. Even if I did.
To be honest when this ageing thing really started happening to me I got a bit stuck. Started worrying. About the looking old. Even more about actually being old. About the money pile. Was it big enough. What is enough anyhow. As shallow as it might seem I’m pretty sure I will always want to wear nice dresses and buy the Henri Roche pastels. From the Paris shop. And to live there for a bit. No matter what values I otherwise live my life by.
And what if I’m growing cancer cells. Should I be doing more to kill them. Detox more often. Fasting and drinking only green tea organic turmeric infused non genetically modified soy latte coconut milk smoothies. Counteract that wine with antioxidants. Which I will definitely cut down. Wine that is. God knows I’m just not cut out for those traditional retirement living arrangements. And anyway can you have a Pinot there with dinner. And I no I can’t even consider voluntary dying as an option.
Perhaps we should’ve worked smarter. Been investment gurus. Could have brought more things. Like houses. For the kids. This idea of giving them our time in quantity was all well and good. They’re probably psychologically ok. Which is great. But perhaps a house and a therapist would’ve actually been better. Made it easier for me ( because statistically I’ll outlive him) to move in. Bring the therapist. When the time comes. Anything other than being put in some horrible place where the food smells odd and they don’t even bother to remove facial hair let alone make a green tea and turmeric smoothie. On and on. You know the drills.
Truth is these are not the things one reads in those top ten regrets of the dying books. I’ve read them. In summary. More money. More followers. The botox laser thing. Not mentioned. Not once. And I will admit nor were nice dresses and those top shelf pastels. Surprising. Given the pleasure I get from them. And what social media feeds us. What we often spend our time and energy and money on.
So my birthday gift to myself is this. I’ve officially given up this sort of angst. Intentionally. I’m pulling myself up on it. It’s not what I choose to do. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. The ageing anxiety. On the contrary. Hell yes. I do. A lot. To use modern speak. I’m leaning in. Touching the thing. When it bothers me I breath. Deep. Hold it. I’m hoping to befriend it.
I’m bringing the best revolutionary almost baby boomer attitude that I can. I’ll be one of the ageing disrupters or be damned. We all know the destination. It’s how you travel there that counts. Surely. Hashtag to that!
Seriously. The best way I can work out this pro-ageing versus anti-ageing versus agelessness thing is this. Intent to be truly brave in the face of the inevitable ending. Whenever. Whatever that is.
Live more. Face on. Full on. Flab optional. Wrinkles required.
Which really does feel completely different to avoidance. Or denial. On reflection feels more like I’ve been preparing for this stage my whole life. Ladies turns out this is when you can truly tell your story. Because the story is starting to make some sense. When you are the rose. Coming into full bloom. It’s all been practice up till now.
Just to be clear I haven’t changed my mind about the seniors card thing. You need to be at least ninety for that kind of thinking. And I still stand by my suggestion to my young work colleague to shut the f*#k up about my age. Not at all relevant in that space. Like bullying and all the other harassments. And I will continue to wear whatever dresses I choose. No advice from young stylist bloggers on age appropriate fashion required.
So I guess I’d better woman up. Welcome that stranger in my mirror. She’s obviously here to stay.