After the amazing fun of the FLOW conversation last month, I’m thrilled to welcome Elissa Stein with a guest post about her next project, WRINKLE: THE CULTURAL STORY OF AGING. Elissa is just beginning the research process, and she wants to hear from real people of ALL ages. We’re all aging every day, so whether you’re 17 or 70, you have something to share. Enjoy the guest post, and please take a few minutes to click the link and share your experiences with Elissa. Who knows? You might end up in her next book!
Here are the facts folks.
I’ll be 45 for two more months. My hair, shades of brown and dark blonde, enhanced with periodic spritzes of Sun-In, masks the subtle grey that soon could be not-so-subtle. More than one person has quietly mentioned that I should consider Botox for my “angry elevens,” the deep vertical grooves between my eyebrows developed by years of squinting rather than wearing my glasses.
My hands are turning into my mother’s—swollen knuckles, veins standing out against rough skin, arthritis starting to creep in. It’s spread from the top joint of my right pointer finger to the base of both thumbs, which are now sore and tender to the touch.
In yoga, sometimes I’ve gotten lost in the wrinkles in my elbows. I didn’t know those were possible.
I pulled something in my back, loading luggage into the truck of my parent’s car, heading home from spring break in Florida. It’s been a week and there are still slight twinges going on.
These are small. Minute, in the scheme of things. Sore fingers. Crepe-y inner arms. Back aches. But they add up to something that scares the shit out of me.
I’m getting older.
And there’s nothing I can do about it.
Right now, in my life, I’m having a moment. I just published my biggest book (so far). Had a kick ass launch party. After taping The View, Whoopi thanked me for writing FLOW. There was my quote in the NY Times. Guest blogging at BUST was a big deal. I’ve been writing every day since October and have never felt such confidence in my voice and my ability to put things out into the world.
I feel almost like I’m at the beginning. In some ways, I am.
But I’m not.
I’m middle aged. Not in the way my mom was, in polyester separates, frosted hair and aviator sunglasses, bowling Monday nights, playing tennis on Wednesdays, hosting dinner parties with cheese trays and salmon mousse. Middle aged now isn’t the same. My daughter only wants to wear my clothes. I can wrap myself up tight in an eagle pose and go out to see music late at night (not that I often want to do that, but I can).
I live in jeans and flip-flops, funky vintage coats, or mod 1960s sun dresses, which do a remarkable job masking the reality that my belly isn’t as hard and flat as it used to be. Two pregnancies made sure there’d forever be a mushy ring around my middle. Someone I know recently had a knee lift and while a few years ago I would have had laughed at the idea, the skin sadly sagging down my thighs has made shorts a fashion option of the past. I have hair growing in places I never would have imagined. But the hair on my head seems to be happy to leave in significant clumps after its been washed.
I sleep less, often waking up in the middle of the night as if it were 10 in the morning, not able to turn the spin in my head off. I eat less, but weigh more. This winter I broke down and bought bigger jeans, finally accepting that I’d never be as thin as I used to be, letting comfort win over the size. My cycle’s changing. I now get monstrous hormone headaches that border on migraine. At the moment I’m wearing sunglasses inside, as bright light hurts. I spend a day each month with mind-blowing cramps that double me over, clenching a hot water bottle to my abdomen. I now get my period every 23 days and let me just say that’s not fair.
There are seemingly endless physical changes, challenges I’m confronting that while I whine about, I can handle.
It’s the other stuff that unnerves me, causes panic, sends me into a tailspin. I worry about cancer. Dementia. Heart issues. Kidney failure. Stroke. All things happening to people I know. And now it’s not just grandparents and parents of friends. It’s people my age. Fellow parents at school. My husband’s best friend. My brother. At any moment one of the strange pains I feel (while I’m not a hypochondriac, anxiety is my middle name) could end up being something serious. Life threatening. Terminal. I try not to go there, but illness and the serious side effects of aging are becoming more and more an every day reality.
So. What am I doing to deal? I’m not going the plastic surgery route. I haven’t bought a motorcycle, and started dating someone half my age (although the latter half of that statement could be fun). I don’t spend thousands on creams that don’t really do anything, have toxins shot into my face, go for chemical peels or colonics.
I’m not buying into the fountain of youth promise advertisers bombard us with. Although I have to say, that facial roller claiming to minimize wrinkles got my attention for a moment or two.
What I’m doing is writing WRINKLE: the Cultural Story of Aging. And I’m hoping that by talking, researching, learning, exploring, starting conversations I’ll find a way, both for me and others in the same getting older boat, to feel more comfortable with the inevitable.
I would love to hear what you think/how you feel about aging.
Thanks, Elissa! I can’t wait to see what WRINKLE will bring.