Back in 2003 I took a trip with my husband to Pueblo, Colorado. We saw some amazing scenery on that trip. We saw the Royal Gorge, wandered through the Garden of the Gods, took a little side trip to Dinosaur National Monument and stayed in the biggest hotel room we'd ever seen in Vernal, UT. Along the the way we stopped at a convenience store. I don't even remember why we stopped, but two memorable things happened. My husband looked out the car window and saw this guy lose his pants. Now I've always been afraid that some of those guys with the sagging jeans would lose thier britches, but I guess I always kind of hoped I wouldn't be a spectator. Fortunately, by the time I looked up they guy had his pants up and was busy pulling himself back together. We laughed a lot, my husband and I. The second memorable event at that convenience store was that I noticed in earnest that he was getting older. It's not that I didn't know, but I had never really taken the time to look closely, I suppose.
You might think, when I made this discovery, that I noticed my husband's greying, balding head, or the wrinkles around his eyes, but what I first noticed was his skin. Have you ever noticed that as you age your skin develops these little lines that resemble the outline of cells? It's almost as if you can see a line around every cell in your skin. That's what I noticed. I told him he had "old people's skin" and proceeded to show him. Lest you think I was picking on him, I showed him the skin on the back of my hands as an example. He thanked me a lot for reminding him that he was getting old. ;)
I have never minded getting older, nor have I ever cared much if anyone wanted to know my age even if it has long been considered a social taboo to ask a woman how many birthdays she has survived. I have always looked young for my age. When I was a teen it was a source of much frustration. My mom would just smile and remind me that looking young would be a good thing when I was older. As I did get older, I came to love the look of shock on someone's face when they would discover my age. My husband told me the first time he saw me without make-up he was a bit concerned that I was too young. Even now, when I tell people I have a son that will be 30 in August they seem surprised.
The last few months, however, I have begun to notice changes. There are more lines around my eyes. When I smile I can see the lines around the side of my face and I noticed that I do look a bit closer to my age. I do not lament that I am getting older, but I do think I'll grieve the loss of the days when I surprise people with my age. I think it's become part of who I am, if that makes sense.
Likewise, I miss my mind. I used to memorize things easily. I've always been a little forgetful with things, but I would learn and remember rather quickly. If I dialed a phone number twice, I knew it. If I drove somewhere, I never had to ask directions again. If I wrote down the lyrics to a song, I knew them and I rarely forgot a name. Now I only seem to recall partial phone numbers unless I dial them quite often, I only remember partial song lyrics, and I mix up and forget names, not to mention whether or not I paid a bill or pre-ordered a cd. I think that is the hardest thing for me.. to lose attributes and abilities that I have so long associated with who I am. But I am determined to muddle through this aging thing as best I can.
Anyway, I haven't really figured out how to grow up, much less how to grow old. I still love doing the things I did when I was much younger. My wrists have been bad for sometime. I remember playing a game of volleyball and it being painful just to hit the ball, but I still played. I once showed my daughter and a friend how to do a dive roll and forgot that you have to use your wrists. I grimaced, but at least I didn't land on my head. I remember what it feels like to do a cartwheel, and I miss the days when I could just do one. My knees aren't what they used to be. I defintely notice when I act like a teenager at a show. But I love some of those things, like going to concerts, and I suppose I'll give them up when I have no other alternative. And I keep hoping that I will someday figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I guess growing old was never on the list.
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