Liz Taylor at 47 on Left,
at 48 on Right
Maybe it’s my birthday today or maybe it’s my 30th class reunion looming this summer but I’ve been feeling like old man time hit me hard this year. I have a theory that we age in a sort of step-like fashion—that is we go along looking more or less the same and then in the passage of a few short months we can visibly age rather rapidly. Surely you’ve noticed this with friends and family you don’t see very often. Well, apparently this past year, my 47th, was a big step year for me.
It all started last fall when I was on a yoga retreat with my sister. No, actually, it all started 48 years ago when I was born, but I didn’t really notice it that much until last fall. Thanks to good genes, fruits and vegetables, and a life of steady exercise, I’ve managed to outrun time a bit. But now I’m thinking, not so much.
I noticed this first, as I said, at the yoga retreat. I was there with my (much) older sister and one of the participants asked which of us was the older sister. Excuse me? My sister and I looked at each other. Even my sister was confused by the question. Did she just ask which one of us is older? We almost couldn’t answer her we were so dumbfounded.
Now, I should say, my sister does look damn good for 55. But she looks like she’s in her 50’s. And if A equals B and B equals C—hey wait a minute.
The next thing I noticed was that as I went around town running errands, old acquaintances of mine—women I’ve known since our kids were all in nursery school together—were not recognizing me. I’d say hi, they’d look at me confused, blink, finally recognize me and say, “Oh I didn’t know that was you!” At first I attributed it to my glasses I’ve had to start wearing. But I’m hardly Clark Kent. Then I attributed it to my (relatively)longer hair. But really, how much do those things really change our identity. I’ve dyed my hair from brunette to platinum in the past and none of these women had any problem recognizing me. The more I thought about it the more I had to admit to myself, it was not those minor changes that have been hiding my true identity lately. It is aging.
I decided I did not like this. I looked for easy ways to look a little younger. I mentioned to my husband that I thought my haircut might make me look older. He smiled and said, “That must be it. It couldn’t be the passing of time.” He’s pretty funny for an old guy.
And that whole glasses thing. I had Lasik done eight years ago and was glasses/contacts free until this year. In the past year I have gone from needing to wear my glasses at night to drive, to needing them to drive, to needing them to grocery shop, to needing them to vacuum, to okay, wearing them all day. I asked my friend who is an eye doctor if he thought there was any truth to the old wives’ tale that wearing glasses makes your eyes weaker. He smiled, “No, getting older makes your eyes weaker.” Well, it sounds bad when you put it that way.
So today I celebrate my 48th birthday. My 47th year was definitely a “step-year” for me. A big, fat, giant step, not a teeny tiny baby step either. I enter this year hoping I’ve leveled off for a while and the next aging step is many years ahead. At least until I'm 55 and look as old as my sister.