It’s the kind of thing that I thought only happens to other people. And when I say “other people”, I mean the elderly.
Or possibly I’ve been delusional my entire life – thinking that I was immune to the signs of aging – and it took THIS to happen to burst my bubble (I’ll get to what “this” is in a minute).
As I try to pinpoint exactly when the certainty that I’ll never age became a part of my belief system, a few memories come to mind.
I was in the prime of my youth, around 16, when one of my mother’s friends, a man who I thought was very, very old (and who was probably in his early 30s) mentioned his theory on aging.
“The human body begins to decline at around age 27,” he said with quasi-scientific precision.
I don’t remember why he said this – what the conversation was at the time – but I do remember the defiant nod of my inner child’s head as I thought, “not MY body”.
Then when I was 19 I remember asking a friend how old she was and when she answered “22”, I had to quickly look away so that she couldn’t see my bulging eyes – suddenly the size of satellites – as I thought, “Oh. My. God. She’s OLD!”
And while the occasional symptoms of passing time do make themselves known (the slight sagging of my eyelids, the sore knees, the brief yet overbearing tropical moments), I simply wave them aside as the consequences of very long days; signs not of aging but of fatigue. After all, we all get tired – young and old alike, right?
But the other morning when I looked into the mirror a different kind of symptom made its appearance. One that, as I mentioned, burst my bubble and shocked me into the realization of mortal truth.
The growth of a single hair.
On. My. Chin.
The frustrating part of this is that it’s only ONE. If it were three, then at least I could braid them into a new trend. One that says, “I’m 47 and finally old enough to have a flowing flock of braided hair from my chin.”
Then aging could be symbolized as something to look forward to. Something EARNED.