In one month, one month from tomorrow, I will have another birthday. And I am dreading it, yet again.
Before I go on, yes, of COURSE I appreciate everything I have--wonderful family, good health, a lovely home, delightful friends...all the things that one works a lifetime to achieve. I have them ALL, and I am supremely glad, thankful and, as is my wont, incredibly worried about everything turning to dust and being sucked up in the giant vortex of bad luck and ickiness. But this is not about all of my good things. This is about the bad. And the bad part is, I am getting old.
Boys and girls, I am not asking for compliments here. Feel free to give them, they are always welcome, but this is simply a statement of fact. I am getting old. This October 1, I am 43. I am slowly, but with increasing speed, creeping into the mid-40's. And creeping is the operative word. The creep is so slow and insidious, that it is all but unnoticeable until you suddenly have lines around your eyes, your mouth, your forehead, your neck-- the light in my bathroom must be super flattering because it wasn't until I was on an airplane (going to Cleveland to play a big show for people that I had not seen in 25 years) that I looked into the bathroom mirror and saw EVERYTHING. Every unruly brow hair, every age spot. Fortunately I had not carried my tweezers onboard for fear of confiscation, or i would have gotten off that plane with a huge need for eyebrow Rogaine. And yes, there is such a thing. That is something you learn when you are old.
When I was living in the world of sweatpants and bad undergarments (i.e. when my kids were little) I never thought about any of this. Partially because I was in my very early thirties, and partially because I just didn't care. Things were so loony when my kids were young, sometimes in a good way, sometimes decidedly bad, that I simply didn't care what I looked like. I made the perfunctory effort to look reasonable, but that meant a haircut and lipbalm. It was an accomplishment to be clean. The only time I really went all out was when I had Meetings With The School. Then, beauty rituals were like armor. Manicure and pedicure, haircut, make-up, even a suit for an attempt at the intimidation factor. And it worked, at least for me. I'm not sure if anyone was frightened by my lipstick, but I thought there was a Xena factor there.
The irony is that the older you get, the less make up you should wear. This is not so as to embrace the most heinous of expressions, GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY (accept your decay without excess complaint), but because make-up can settle into your wrinkles, can accentuate the dark circles, does not actually cover up the age spots caused by the youthful exuberance of lying in the sun smothered in baby oil. It doesn't work. It just doesn't. God forbid I should go out unfinished (as my BFF likes to call it) so I have a few tricks up my sleeve. And I am obsessively vain about my skin. But the goal seems to have become not to look younger, but to not look older. This depresses me beyond belief.
After the Cleveland show, I watched the video, something I usually avoid, and I was pleasantly surprised. The pictures made me somewhat nauseous (sorry, Blair!) because it was 9000 degrees at The Barking Spider and I was hot and shiny, rather than "dewy" or "luminous". But in the video, I looked ok. I looked kind of cute, even. That was heartening, that maybe my beauty product OCD was paying off. Or maybe doing something that I really love is just good for my face overall. I was smiling, I was happy. And I liked my shirt, even though I question it now.
It is POSSIBLE that other people don't see all the history I see on my face. Maybe when I'm singing, when I'm laughing or telling a dirty story, those historical markers are not obvious to anyone else. Maybe they never are. Awesome for everyone else. Because when I look at myself in the mirror, I say, Fuck Aging Gracefully. I am fighting it. Or maybe I should take my friend LZ's advice, and tell people that I'm 50. I look amazing for 50.