Feeling the Years

Ok, so several days after my 46th birthday I was walking to school to pick up the kids, casually cute in jeans and lipstick, marching along like nobody’s business, when I was drawn up short passing a child who was sitting in a parked mini van. This little boy, adorable, freckled, maybe 4, sang out merrily as he pointed right at me, “HEY! Who’s that old woman?”

His mother, who I couldn’t see, let out a sharp, “SHH!” as I paused, unable to come up with a snappy reply. Finally, I flung over my shoulder the extremely lame phrase, “Not so old, MISTER!” and kept going. I will not lie, however – I was on the brink of tears.

The next day, for no reason that I could discern (having forgotten – or blocked out – the previous day’s encounter with a member of the Age Police), I felt ugly. I thought I looked like a refrigerator in my exercise clothes and didn’t want my Beau to see me. I couldn’t find a cute photo of me to upload to my MadFemmePride profile and when I found a couple I thought would do, my Beau came up and said casually, “That one’s not very flattering, baby.” I took them all off. Later, I was so tender that something relatively harmless she said hurt my feelings and made me cry.

How can I still be so susceptible to the status quo after all these years? Haven’t I built up more of a protective shell? All those years learning to be fat positive, to appreciate my own beautiful femme physique, to be out and proud and cute and loud – what about them? I think the key is “all those years,” really. It’s one thing to be fat and proud, another to get it up for saggy and proud. Sigh. I am having trouble with aging.

Even if 40 is the new 20, I’m still pushing half a century, and that’s a long time. It isn’t enough that I have to contend with the ever-expanding mysteries of the technological age (could someone please explain MySpace to me? on the other hand, never mind – I’d rather just read a book while they still exist), that my 9 year old knows more about the computer than I ever will, that I have to use the area code to dial next door to my neighbor’s house, and that my country has sunk to such depths politically that I am ashamed and sad – no, I also have to deal with that other, more intimate detail of growing old: my changing body.

It is a lucky femme who reaches her mid-40s without a few dings, and I’ve had my share. Most recently, I got through some hip surgery, which, although very scary, has given me back my mobility. There is no feeling cute when you’re in pain all the time and have to move through life with a cane, even if it has a leopard skin pattern. Many months of PT and hard work later, I walk without a limp and without pain; a combination of modern medical miracles and sheer determination. I am proud of myself, and feel lucky to have had the loving support of my family, and yet, and yet.

Well, here I am almost at the end of the post and I have no real insight to offer. From Shakespeare to name-that-writer, we’ve all lamented growing old. Gaining wisdom and losing muscle tone. Making it through the stormy relationships of yore to the shelter of a dear and true companion’s arms right when mortality begins to loom really, really large. Finally finding our true sexuality only to teeter on the brink of menopause and feel baffled by the vast variety of lube. I guess the only comfort is that we’re all in it together. Maybe we can just keep each other company?

cross posted from queertoday

Published in: on October 30, 2008 at 2:47 PM  Leave a Comment  

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