My failed interview at the charter school may have turned out to be the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time. Feeling old has taken on a new healthy life of its own. It’s certainly caused me to think a lot about aging and why we’re all so afraid of something that’s going to happen whether we like it or not. I’m even thinking of letting my highlights grow out and going naturally gray. Why not? I’m old anyway, so what’s the point of trying to look like something I’m not? Must I be forced to join the legions of former brunettes who drink the blonde kool aid merely because I’m officially “middle aged?”
I read an interesting article in Time magazine about “amortality.” Per Catherine Mayer, the author of the story, “The defining characteristic of amortality is to live in the same way, at the same pitch, doing and consuming much the same things, from late teens right up until death.” Maybe this is merely a reaction to the interview, but I’ve found myself going out of my way lately to question whether something makes me old or not. For instance, last weekend I tripped on a run and my back has been hurting ever since. Is this what it means to be old? I look in the mirror and see new lines on my face and wonder why I never noticed them before. A student in class will say something I can’t make out and I wonder if my hearing is starting to go. Am I wearing my hair too long for my age, should I cut it? When does a woman cross the hair threshold and have to keep it short, and who makes up these rules?
I don’t think I’m necessarily interested in being amortal. I don’t want to live my life the same way I did when I was in my late teens, or even my twenties or thirties. I like slowing down and not having to explain everything I do. Things that once seemed so important simply don’t anymore, and I’m able to laugh at myself and some of my quirks and particularities. I’m glad my kids are grown and I can focus more on myself again. I don’t really care as much what other people think about me, and I’m starting to care less about the way my looks are changing (I’m still working on this). I’m getting used to feeling invisible around certain younger crowds, and I think I cringe less when someone calls me “ma’am.” I certainly feel more confident than I did when I was younger, and I’m in better shape, too. I’m not afraid of spending time alone.
I think I’m more interested in living as if aging doesn’t matter. I’ll just keep doing the things I want to until I either don’t want to anymore or my body can’t handle it. I’ll make my own rules as I go along. I’ll keep running marathons, knitting, listening to Pearl Jam, country, and opera, hiking, wearing tight jeans, and drinking good beer. It’s a good place to start.