Aging! Isn’t it great, says no one when they get to be the age they are called Ma’am or Instagram starts sending them targeted ads for retirement villas. As if I can afford a villa. As if I might be able to afford retiring. Geez oh.
As a general rule who needs to hear about a white middle-aged lady aging? That just seems like a lot of hooey everyone can do without. I mean, I could do without it too, if it wasn’t so glaringly obvious. At least to me. And that’s part of the crux of aging I think, it’s so internalized and is all about how you handle that wild ride. So far, my left knee and right ankle are telling me that ride is going to be sort of uncomfortable and they see a lot of orthopedic shoes in my future. Screw you, necessary appendages.
One day, you’re meandering about, idly doing nothing. Cleaning, reading, walking the dog. And there working the mundane you catch sight of yourself in a mirror or glass. For a second, you pause and then look again. Oh no, you think. What has happened to me? This is what I look like? When did this happen? I got old. Physically. There’s either a dismissiveness then in that moment or there is an outright sense of foreboding. The gamut is, I’m old, this is fine or the I’m old, what in holy hell. The pendulum might swing either way on any given day. It might swing back and forth in the same day. Within the same hour. This is life. But life as a middle-aged woman is not really the same as being a middle 20s one now, is it? Hello??? I’m over here, can you see me and hear me? I’m talking.
To be honest, until very recently I never thought much about age at all, at any age I’ve been thus far. It was a number. And the years went on. You had ups and downs and you did some fun stuff, some not so fun stuff. Isn’t this just what it all was. Then I’m not sure I know exactly when it changed but it did change. It most certainly had not yet become an obvious tag I was wearing. I do love a brooch though. Maybe because it was more outwardly noticeable to me how much my physical self was trying to work against my inner self. Or maybe it was I had bought into, 40 is the new 30, only to realise it was those pesky marketing gurus trying to sell me something. Again. I didn’t feel any different. Did I? I was a more complete person, with life experience, why would my outer shell rue me. We got along – or so I thought.
The last few years, what with all the upheaval I have definitely become more connected to age and how I look and act and feel in the body I have. How lumpy and roly-poly I feel in a favourite dress, when that never happened before. How fussy I get about hair when no one outside my pet might see me during the day. And my absolute favourite, is how many times can Kristina change in a 15-minute period because she hates everything that is coming in contact with her (to be fair I’ve always been like that.) More so is how the age and dress size work to define HOW you age. How your own brain and outside forces work against you in a perfect storm. Ah, fat, pleasantly plump, chubby, curvy etc. and over 40. Please step out of the line, ma’am, you’re no longer needed for anything. Even if that isn’t true, and realistically I’m needed for some things, the misogyny informing the aging process conspires to dull us – even when we’re all still shining. Like diamonds.
I’m repeating myself; I know. But most of the aging process is a question. Most of life is questions. And you don’t always get answers to those questions. It’s constant existential pondering. For an introvert I wonder if there are more prolonged periods of introspection as well. I suspect some of who we are before we realise, we’ve aged out of (any) attractiveness or status, influences all those answers and how we deal with the day to day of getting older in a society that is always geared towards the young. Hell, if I know.
Truthfully of course there is, thankfully, many women who have taken getting older into new places. JLo, for example is no longer even in her 40s – yet works out twice a day, has built a business, which is herself, looks like the millions she has amassed and can afford not to age. I admire her. It’s her full-time daily job. My full-time daily job consists of commuting, coffee, pencil pushing, commuting, a lot of sitting, dishes, some laundry, some child rearing, a little tv, and lying awake at night wondering why I can’t sleep. That definitely is not in the same sphere as how JLo ages. If olive oil really made her skin that way I’d bathe in the stuff. Alas, I don’t think that’s the case or she’d have bought an olive oil farm instead of releasing a skin care line. But still, I’m super happy for her.
What are you going to do about it all, Kristina?
Good question brain, what am I going to do. Well, for one, really there isn’t much to do. The privilege of aging isn’t to be taken lightly. Whilst there are lots of new aches and pains and weird internal things and grey hairs and malaise, there is also hope. Hope that even if I’m soft in the belly and am endowed to the extreme (so much so I’ve been told, to my face, just cut them off – seriously, I’ll never not get over that) my soul and heart will take me to places beyond the mere surface of the apoplectic worry in physical reflection.
My physical aging is a loss of only one part. I haven’t lost my mind; it still can work to great regard. I haven’t lost my curiosity, in fact I’m more curious about other people than ever. I haven’t lost my sense of humor or desire to nerd out on the nerdiest nerd stuff I can find. Oooo look, comics. So, when aging is talked about, even when I think about it, I should contextualize it properly. The oh no, I got old is an invitation to take oneself to new places. With new loves. Old loves. New pizza toppings. And a new coat.
I want to give myself the permission my soul needs to exist in the space it was granted when I arrived here on this planet. Regardless of the external. Our bodies house our beautiful souls. We should connect with them, care for them, make a home for them. If not all that privilege has gone to waste. Physical youth is the gift of nature, age is the work of art (sic).
I think getting older is the single largest revelation I’ve had about myself in the past few years. I’m inclined to say I’ll espouse on it more because these thoughts above are just an initial touchstone on aging, however messed up they are.
If you made it to here, thank you.