Who IS that person?
The one on the television screen with the deep creases etched along her mouth and all the crinkly skin bunched around her neck like a band of folded tissue paper. Discarded tissue paper at that.
Oh. As much as I want to turn away in horror, denying the truth, it's me.
We often speak in cliches, blithely, with no attachment to those words...until we are slapped with them on a personal level. Until they are describing us and not the old lady who lives down the street.
Like hearing your own voice, recorded and then played back. "That doesn't sound anything like me," we all say in astonishment. Except that everyone else recognized us instantly as that tape plays on.
Or, as in my case the other day, "Who IS that old lady?" I said. Everyone else called and emailed, though, saying how great I looked on a recent TV interview about my book, Nothing to Complain About. What am I to make of that? (How I looked, not that I AM complaining about it. I'll have to deal with that issue another day.) I saw myself on the screen and was shocked right out of my complacency. My internal life is so much younger than that face looking out at me, the one belonging to someone I don't even recognize. Not even a little bit.
My reaction since has been all over the emotional map, running the gamut from pricing face-lifts to wanting to crawl under the bed covers for the rest of my life. Certainly not to be seen on television. Ever again. I feel much like I did when I turned 60, the depression settling around my ears (at least ears don't seem to wrinkle...do they?), a low-grade angst residing in my belly like a rock.
As is often the case, our children can put us back on track, either by distracting us with all their shenanigans that we are required to deal with, or by simply speaking the truth without worrying about our reaction ahead of time. Even if they are adults, as is my daughter.
"I guess the important thing, Mom, is that you don't FEEL like an old lady," she said as I groused and complained (yep, I did it again) about my appearance on television. Well, let's be honest here....about my appearance period. She knows me well, this young woman who I raised as a a single parent for over 15 years. She knows that I take ballroom dance lessons, do interval weight training at my gym several times a week, undertake a new adventure every month (some of which she has been witness to), and write educational materials for teenagers to name just a few of the things that keep me busy....and young in heart and mind and (some parts of my) body.
No old ladies live in my house, that's for sure.She knows that and on many levels, I know that, too.
But just to be safe, keep those TV cameras away from me in the future, OK?
A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. ~John Barrymore