When I was younger, much younger, the concept of aging was lost on me. As was the swiftness of time. Happily ever after meant exactly like it sounded, you were happy for ever after and all of eternity because that’s what it was about. Cinderella never got wrinkles and Prince Charming never developed creaky knees. Rapunzel’s hair never changed color and her prince never lost his flexibility.
And because I saw my parents on a daily basis, lets face it they were feeding me and clothing me and telling me stories, I didn’t notice them getting older. And then I ran away to start my life anew. Which meant that when I came back they were suddenly old. Like in a different fairytale, or maybe the mirror on the wall failed to say that things would change.
Still I was somewhat removed from this aging thing, it just sorta happened to others. Until it wasn’t. Happening to others who weren’t exactly far removed from my circle. But still I was okay because it wasn’t really happening to me. And then of course it does.
It’s a sneaky process, starts with what you think is a small twinge or sprain that gradually becomes every day of your life. It’s the suddenly lovely glittery aspects of a few sliver strands in your hair, until the day it’s as if someone went crazy with the glitter. It’s those enduring crinkles that only used to be around Beloved’s eyes when he smiled that now seem to be there all the time. Even without the smile. Or the sudden lines that I swear were no where to be seen yesterday on my own face.
Suddenly the question becomes, do you want the effort of having to tie up your shoes. Heck can you even bend down to tie your shoes, or do you need a crane company on standby. Just in case you get down one day and never get back up?
Okay so it’s not just aging in my place, it’s also a chronic illness, but you get the picture. Beloved suddenly discovered comfortable pants. The kind that only a year ago he would never wear. And interesting color combinations of outfits because he isn’t worried about the way the pants and the shirt go together as much as he is interested in how comfortable it feels. And suspenders or braces on his pants because it’s easier than a belt. (Don’t ask.)
I discovered that there comes a point when you can’t hold the book close enough to your face and still read it without getting ink on your nose. And of course people let you walk around like this, in public. All day long. Because they find it amusing. Or maybe because their eyes aren’t working exactly perfect either.
Someone recently told me aging should teach us patience, but it doesn’t. We aren’t patient to get older, we fight against it. We claw back minor victories as though they were huge battles won. And in the end time will still move forward as our grip gets weaker and we get a bit older.
But what aging has taught me is that you are never satisfied with yourself or your life. You are never as patient as you could be and you are never as prepared as you think. What seems like a major victory today, in a few weeks will be nothing worth even noting. And if you don’t look to closely at those you surround yourself with, and you avoid a few mirror here and there you can fool yourself. You still feel 22 even after those numbers are long past and your features speak of more years of adventure and fun.