Aging Semi-Gracefully

You know you’re getting older most days just looking in the mirror. More wrinkles, gray hair, and things sagging that once were firm.

The gray hair has been there since I was a teen. My Gramma went white when she was in her 20’s and no one ever remembered her with darker hair. I have had my hair every color possible because why not? My biggest personal indulgence is my monthly hair salon visit. A natural brunette, I’ve gone blonde with pink highlights to help hide the white roots. You know you’re getting older when the few stray dark chin hairs you used to pluck out have turned white.

I was blessed with good genes as far as wrinkles go. It wasn’t until I turned 60 that wrinkles really started to catch up with me. I’ve been blessed not to have looked my age. Once the youngest in my office (I was 19 when I started my very first job, a temp job at a bank), I am now the old broad, the oldest one in my department. You know you’re getting older when you’ve been tasked with training (multiple) people. I spend a good portion of my day imparting my knowledge to others. After all I’m not going to be doing this forever.

I was never a star athlete or much of a fitness nut. I was fit enough in my 30’s to join a gym and work out every day at lunch time. Now I find myself working in the very same building with free access to the very same gym. I’m 60. I know I’m not dead, but I have zero interest in jumping around in an aerobics class as I once did. I could walk a treadmill or ride a stationary bike, but the things that once worked well enough for that no longer cooperate as they once did. You know you’re getting older when you add your name to the list of people in need of assistance during a fire drill.

I fell down the stairs a number of years ago and I have a knee that’s had physical therapy. It refuses to cooperate and swells up every so often. It buckles when I go down stairs. I have Achilles’ tendons with calcium deposits and a bum ankle from spraining it twice in my youth. I work on the 19th floor now. Walking down all of those stairs for a fire drill isn’t an option for me. If I don’t have to, I’m not going to. Period. Hell, yes, add me to the list. You know you’re getting older when your pride doesn’t hold you back from asking for help.

Yes, age has its benefits. I no longer care what others think nor do I walk around worrying about what they might be saying about me. Nope. I wear leggings, capris or yoga pants. No more tight waistbands for me. I remember lying down to zip up snug-fitting jeans and then looking damned good in them. I also got gas cramps and itchy grooves dug into my belly. Now I wear baggy, triple x sized t-shirts. I’m not that fat. I just don’t like anything tight or clinging. I wear flats 24/7. I used to stuff my feet into spiked heels, and I’m 5’9”. Now I wear sneakers to work, and I wear slacks and baggy blouses. I used to wear business suits, stockings and color matched high heels. I dressed for success. Did I ever succeed? Nope. So now I’m comfortable. You know you’re getting older when comfort comes before fashion.

I’ve reached the age where I can eat off of the 55 Plus menu or do the early bird specials. Do I? Nope. I’m not quite ready for that level of senior citizen label. I probably should because my digestion these days doesn’t allow me to scarf down bad food. I’d rather be hungry than sorry tomorrow. I only eat what agrees with me. You know you’re getting older when you order a full meal and walk away leaving most of it still on your plate.

You know you’re getting older when you can feel it in your bones. Age is freeing, but aging is permanent. The years slip by before you know it, and you can’t get them back. So take those instrument lessons you always wanted to or put pink streaks in your hair. Play live on stage with a band. Adopt a kitten while you’re still young enough to chase them around.

You know you’re getting older. Hurry up before it’s too late.

Aging

55 2My friend Lori tells me that she’ll be 50 this year. I am five years older than she is. When I reminded her how old I would be, she said “I want to be the speed limit, too!”  Sigh. No, she doesn’t.  Being 55 sounds “old” to me.  54, for some reason, doesn’t. Maybe I think of 54 as being in my “early 50’s”, and I feel like 55 is edging too close to 60.

I spoke to my Academic Advisor at my new school the other night.  We had our first meeting over the phone.  I know she had all my vital statistics in front of her (including my birthdate) so she knew my age.   Hearing myself say, “I am one of your older students; I’ll be 55” sounded so jarring to me.  I wondered whether she was thinking the same thing I was – “Why are you getting more education at your age?” When we calculated out how long this degree will take and we came out with another three years, I felt a little bummed.  60 is looming closer all the time.

Age usually doesn’t bother me.   I would never do anything like Botox or a face lift.  That’s a waste of money, and I don’t know who they think they are kidding.  Most of the actresses on TV or at the movies who’ve had work done look terrible.  I have never in my life lied about my age. I always tell people how old I am.  I can’t change it. We all get older.

I was fine with 30.  40 was a little harder since you feel like you’re leaving your youth behind.  My fourth decade on the planet kind-of sucked anyway.  It was a decade of goodbye’s for me.  I was good with 50. 50 was freeing in a way.  I’m not sure how I’ll be at 60.  Right now it sounds a little intimidating.

Now as I look in the mirror I see the family “curse” catching up with me.  My older brother used to get carded in his 30’s.  He always had a baby face.  After he reached 50, he suddenly started to age visibly.  He had gray in his hair and lots of crinkles around his eyes.  I’m noticing that my hair salon visits are now closer together. My hair is more gray than brown, and the gray won’t stay hidden.  I’m also noticing all kinds of crinkles around my eyes and they are starting to bracket my mouth, too. I won’t get into what’s happened to my knees.

Next Wednesday when I go to bed, I will be in my early 50’s.  When I wake up on Thursday morning, I’ll be the speed limit.  How did that happen?

55