Everything is heading south. No, not to the states with grits and mint juleps, but to the two feet that lie beneath me as I creep towards my sixth decade.
First, let’s set aside the adages about fine wines, objets d’art and furniture that gets more beautiful as it ages and let’s talk about being a woman in her 50s, what she does to feel better about herself these days and what she will just have to accept.
Gravity does, after all, have a way of taking its toll after five decades of life. One day you just wake up and try to find the face that once launched a thousand ships somewhere in the makeup mirror. No matter. Whatever sags, wrinkles, or is too abundant (like the extra tonnage around a mid-section) can be handled by the miracles of either surgery or makeup if you’ve got the money, which I haven’t right now. Hope, however, still springs eternal.
Boomers don’t like to age. We counter this with a penchant for indulging ourselves, elevating narcissism to new levels. I ask you — did your mother save up all her extra pennies for regular manicures and pedicures? Mine didn’t. She did save Green Stamps with a vengeance, though, and I can remember the delight she displayed when she unwrapped a brand new Revere Ware saucepan. It’s still hard for me to believe that was one of the things that ‘did’ it for her, but I know it to be true.
Now all it seems I do is apologize for the appearance of my hands and/or feet if I happened to miss an appointment with the gals on Team Vietnam. And just WHAT are these lovely ladies saying about me to one another in their rapid-fire native tongues while filing away on my extremities? I’ll never know because I’m sure they will never tell.
People splayed out on massage tables used to be depicted in movies as either wealthy snobs or sweaty prizefighters. I am no Rocky Balboa nor am I bucks up, but I would do without a month of Starbucks for a good massage. This leads me to ask — when did I begin lumping myself in with the Leona Helmsleys of the world? The same $75 I put out for a good 60-minute massage is what I used to spend on a week’s groceries when my daughter was little.
The corner spa has replaced the mom and pop grocery stores of my youth. Here, you can get a spray-on tan, extra eyelashes, a face-tightening, permanent makeup and a bikini waxing torture session while you experience therapy given out by inanimate objects, like aromas and warmed up rocks. Sounds of harps, oceans, crickets or Peruvians echo gently in the background and you are spirited away to another plane of reality for an hour or two.
Life is good until you are approached by the size two 19-year old waif in leggings with perfect skin in the reception area who hands you a bill for $210.
Okay, so I should balance this diatribe with what is great about my age.
To be honest, this is the part that would literally run off the page. I am at an age where wisdom counts; I know what I know and no one can make me want to go back to those days of less certainty, awkward moments and blistering sunburns.
I don’t give a flying camel’s hump what people think of me any more – at least not like I used to. Sure, approval is nice and compliments are always welcome. But if what I am saying or doing is not deemed 100% proper, I don’t lie awake at night trying to imagine how many people are talking about me. That’s a pretty liberating feeling.
Having a grown and productive daughter tells me that all those rolling eyes, wisecracks and bad hair days paid off. And when grandchildren are someday (hopefully) placed in my arms, I will spoil them mercilessly and then hand them back to their parents to reverse the behavioral damage I just inflicted on their little psyches.
One of the best parts of pushing 60 is being able to live to write about it all. Until I discovered the joys of writing regularly, I had no idea what was inside of me that needed to be expressed, whether it’s uplifting, introspective, inspiring or just an irreverent kick in the pants just itching to be put into words.
So I am sailing. North, south, east or west, the compass is taking me to places I’ve never been before. And suddenly south doesn’t look so bad.