the word is out, aging is in

She drove an old gray Oldsmobile with duct tape and plastic covering one of the back windows, possibly both, I can’t recall. We’d been on the same dog park schedule for years, though that schedule wasn’t even remotely regular, so maybe she was just always there, chain-smoking, making speedy laps with her fluffy old white dog trotting just ahead of her, sometimes behind. Man, nothing fazed that dog. With a steady gait, she’d make efficient, calculated arcs to avoid other dogs, humans, and obstacles without breaking her prance, gazing straight ahead, like a majestic dressage horse focused on the performance, her owner moving just as rhythmically.

Our interactions were simple but meaningful. An acknowledgment of dog park diehards. A head nod as we passed one another walking in opposite directions, a wave from across the park if we were circling the same path; I always walk the same way cuz Freddie’s kind of a freak like that, they liked to change it up. In inclement weather, for which she never seemed appropriately dressed, her two-pack a day voice would caution on the slipperiness, commiserate on the muddiness, comment on the windiness, clutching her light jacket tightly around her petite frame. Fred always ran up to greet the old woman and her elderly dog with a little lick before falling into step behind the majestic white floof for a few friendly paces. We shared a mutual appreciation and respect for them both. Our people. 

And then one day, they stopped coming. 

Thought #1: Oh shit. COVID got her. This was 2020 and I never once saw her without a cigarette in her hand, or more commonly, in her mouth with her hands shoved deep in her pockets. Oh no, poor dog. Was she the one who found her?

Thought #2: Wait. Was it the dog? Noooooooo!! Not the dog!!

Strange times.

That lead to a bunch of other less permanent possibilities before I settled on the idea they Thelma and Louise’d it in the ole Oldsmobile, which oddly was a much happier vision than thought 1 or 2.

I think about dying plenty. I think about it more intimately every February, as the ninth day marks the uptick of my numerical identity. As if it’s the only month I actually age, not slowly and daily through all the others. I was chatting with a friend the other day about how lucky I feel to not have any serious body ailments, how I never really get sick; never missed a day of school, college, grad school OR work due to illness (physical that is; I strongly believe in mental health days). I didn’t feel Covid when I had it, wouldn’t have even known had I not tested. He surmised that I was some kind of freak of nature, which I’ve been wondering a lot about lately. Maybe Life’s just saving up for a Big One that’s gonna get me in the end. 

According to Julia Fox (who I went googling down the rabbit hole this morning, having no idea who she was after seeing her name referenced in the article), “aging is fully in, like fully.” In fact, “getting old is fucking hot.” Which is sort of terrifying, because I’ve been looking forward to removing myself from the game ever since I realized society secretly signed me up. My main problem is internal. Instead of moving onto the next age with my body and the calendar year, I tend to mentally feel all of my ages all at once, so sometimes it’s hard to understand my place socially. I fit in everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Women forever have been drowning in the fountain of youth, perpetuated by endless beauty products to erase fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, hair dyes to cover wisdom, advertisements for botox and facelifts to restore that youthful glow. I know I’m wrong, but sometimes I joke that only people who think they’re pretty worry about that shit. Me? I’m hoping aging improves my looks. I’ve been waiting to grow into my nose for years, but the joke’s on me! The only two body parts that keep growing are your nose and ears, so I’ll die waiting. I’ve let my hair gray naturally, though I am pretty lucky it’s in a funky Cruella de Vil streak kind of way. I’m not trendy. I don’t care what’s “in,” though having lived through enough decades, trends inevitably make their way back to whatever style I’ve selected for my avatar, which sort of bites me in the ass because when you’re 42 and appear trendy, you’re just “trying too hard.” I just want to wear what I want to wear and not have anyone care. All that to say, I actually want to look like I’ve lived all my years. Like, really lived them. Besides, clinging onto youth doesn’t make you young.

Not to mention, society tends to treat young single women like we’re creatures of the night, desperately looking to land a man or steal your husband. But single women of a certain age become harmless spinsters, and ain’t nothing sexy about that word. And here’s one of a lifetime of experiences to help support my argument.

I ran into some old co-workers from the college bar I worked at in the earliest of oughts. Mostly dudes. Actually all dudes, because the ladies I worked with are still some of my closest friends and we see each other on purpose. 20 years had passed since we were all together and many of them now had wives. Present.

The vibe was great from the old bar staff. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the service industry, you know how bonding an experience like that can be. Good times, good times. The vibe was weird from the wives department. My friend Leigh Ann picked up on the odd female tension in the group and smartly, slowly backed away to observe from a distance. Not her battle. Not mine either, but fuck it, I’ll play with the green-eyed monster today. While catching up with an old friend I probably hadn’t seen since my last day at the bar, his very pretty, very observant wife interrupted to grab my hand, checked my fingers and questioned tensely:

Oh, so you’re not married?

I didn’t think explaining marriage wasn’t my jam or mentioning my brilliant recovering alcoholic (now ex) boyfriend who worked at Two Men and a Truck while trying to sort out his life direction was going to solidify the very true fact that I was not, nor had ever been interested in her husband, so I stammered out a “Ohhhh, nope, no. I am not,” bewildered this was a question one woman was asking another woman she just met, but also not at all surprised.

Eventually I slithered back to Leigh Ann, as we creatures of the night do. Slither.

Duuuuuude, that was intense, I had to remove myself from that situation. But it seemed like it ended okay? I could literally see her relax from across the room. How did you do that?

Oh. Ha. I mentioned my age. 

As if that number negated everything else I am, was or could ever be. Who cares!!? She’s old! With that tiny nugget of info, she immediately (and I mean immediate, it was wild to witness) stopped seeing me as a threat and we engaged in a productive, friendly conversation about her status as a DINK (dual income, no kids); she even appreciated I was an OINK (one income, no kids.) I just made OINK up, it’s not a thing.

If I was only 39 at the time, just imagine the superpower 42 holds. Or would have held. Thanks for nothing, Julia Fox, whoever you are. You owe me a superpower.

Aging is one wild ride. So throw yer hands up and enjoy it, ya ole’ bags.

One thought on “the word is out, aging is in

  1. Getting old is dumb. I realize now that it has been almost a decade since Sola shared your blog with me and I started clicking the links. Over the years, it has become one of the few things I excitedly click when I see it show up. I’m glad you picked up the keyboard again awhile back.

    Oh… to be younger and smack-talking those who would soon become irrelevant, in the Voyager dining area. Those were the good old days…

    Godspeed, old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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