Cobblestones and Aging: Strange Bedfellows

 

I’m in Mexico head down, walking on cobblestones, stepping in between the uneven cracks trying to avoid snubbing my toe, twisting an ankle or, worse yet, stumbling into a pothole that comes up fast, out of nowhere like a wave on an otherwise calm sea. I raise my head for just a second or two and spot a pair of long, shapely woman’s legs—pale as a newborn baby’s butt—too pale to reflect the hot afternoon sun that shimmers on the dark skin of many Mexicans whose quaint World Heritage town has been overrun by gringos who have flocked here after Travel & Leisure crowned it the Number One—that’s Numero Uno—city in the whole world. (I wonder if the editors tried to walk on the cobblestones before they made their choice.)

Aside from a slight jiggle on the back of the young woman’s calves with each step, her pale legs are a blank slate like a piece of notebook paper sitting on a desk in front of a kid who has not done his homework and itches to play video games—to do anything—except fill the blank piece of paper with something that resembles a few coherent sentences.

I follow the gringa with the pale legs and imagine what they’ll look like some forty years hence. The legs are no longer spotless but covered by purplish spider veins that resemble the random rivers, streams, and arroyos on a detailed page of an atlas or an online map of the world’s most popular biking routes.

I wonder whether she swallowed her ego enough to wear support hose during one or two pregnancies (actually, 2.4 according to the most recent data)—stockings advertised as “elegant in appearance,” “ultra fashion” support, on sale at Walgreens for $24.99. If she didn’t wear support stockings in mortal fear of looking like a Red Cross nurse, then perhaps she discovered Joan River’s The Right to Bare Legs, a foundation makeup for legs that does a decent job of camouflaging all the insults of aging but also does a number on pant legs, bath towels, and sheets. I’m not sure which is worse—doing laundry with those hard-to-remove stains or baring legs will all the markers of a life many decades in the making.

If I take any lesson from this pale-legs-go-bad saga, it is this: best to focus on the potential hazards of walking on cobblestones than on a young woman’s pale, unmarred legs that remind us senior women that young women age like the rest of us and will have to either accept the physical chain reaction of a long life, well lived, or fight a losing battle (unless they are part of the 1 percent) with both their bodies and their minds.  (Warning: Don’t use the same plastic surgeon who did Goldie Hawn’s facelift.)  Growing older can be a gift, if only we open the package and treasure what’s inside—whether or not the gift was on our wish list.

Photo by Giselle Peters

AGE JUMPS

No, not the age jumps (gaps) between brothers and sisters. For now, I’ve written enough about that topic in both The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives (shameless plug) and in many posts right here.

 

An age jump day.

An age jump day.

Nope, I’m talking about the days when you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and stare in dismay at a new line that has made its debut around the corners of your mouth, the corner of an eye or anywhere else.  Or maybe a slightly deeper fold that runs along the side of your nose like a river in the Grand Canyon.

Oh, I could go on about the physical “ravages” of age.  I fondly remember the day when I was in my early 40s and a friend sat on a porch step one rung higher than mine.  She peered at the top of my head adorned with a mass of what I called a “lion’s mane” and declared, “You don’t have one gray hair!”

Honestly, I hadn’t given a thought to turning gray.  I was concerned about the small amount of loose skin between my bra strap and my arm.  (If only I’d realized then what I know now.  I would have worn sleeveless tops every day of the year.)

So, back to the present.  A new wrinkle . . . a deeper line . . . crepe paper skin . . . Your first response?  If you’re like most of us, you want to slam a bag over your head (any material/size will do) and sulk for the rest of the day.  And that’s what I recommend—minus the bag, of course.

We need to grieve.  To feel sorry for ourselves.  To wonder where all the time has gone and why we look more like our mothers/grandmothers than we vowed we ever would.

Hell, if you feel like buying a burka, go right ahead.  Cover yourself and all your imperfections from head to foot.  (If it’s summer, take care: you could suffocate.)

We grieve all kinds of losses: loved ones, pets, friends, satisfying jobs.  But, rarely, do we give ourselves permission to grieve for what society has convinced us is a loss of beauty.  Oh, we complain to anyone who will listen.  (My husband has had it up to “here.”)  We bitch about our flabby stomachs, our sagging chins, the veins large and small that mar our legs into an atlas-like illustration of all the rivers that flow through our state.

(BTW, I may take the prize for the flabby stomach thing.  Mine used to be so flat and taut.  Farewell.)

What I’ve found is a little bit of grief goes a long way.  Feel sorry for yourself.  Look at old pictures and curse the day you were born.  Maybe even try on that size 8 dress you’ve hidden in your closet in the hopes of someday being able to wear it again.

But at the end of your age jump and your day of grief, give it up.  Look straight in the mirror and thank the gods or goddesses that you look (and feel) as good as you do.  And remember: Next week, next month, six months from now you’ll look back on today and wish that you had embraced that wrinkle or sag because you looked damn good.

 

 

JL-Siblings-Hdr

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WRITING ABOUT SEX

Nope.  This isn’t a racy story about me and my sexual escapades.

Instead, it’s about the fascination we have about sex and, as a result, why sex sells.

I have a perfect example:  Yesterday, I posted a blog titled “Grandmother Lover” here and on Medium.  I didn’t dare go off script and disrupt my focus on siblings and publicize my ramblings on the more visible sites like Twitter and Facebook.  Never know where Big Brother is lurking or when publishers, distributors, literary agents decide to read my stuff.

Still, I just HAD to blog somewhere.  The night before, I’d happened upon “Grandmother Lover,” a documentary about younger men (I’m talking in their 30s) and older women . . . grandmothers, great grandmothers in their 80s, even 90s.

http://janeleder.net

Okay, I’m not a prude.  And I like to consider myself an accepting woman who honors all kinds of wacko stuff.  And, as I wrote yesterday, I went along with this phenomenon because, at first, it gave me hope—hope that, if in the highly unlikely circumstance I were ever in the market for a new man, the wrinkles, crepe skin, sagging everything wouldn’t matter.  I could find a man, a young man, who would think I’m the best thing since the great grandmother he’d wooed before me.

images-1

I titled my post “Grandmother Lovers.”  Guess what?  I had more views on this blog than I’d had in weeks, maybe months.  And I can’t lie: it felt great to have had so many people interested in what I had to say.

But then?  Not so much.  As a sassy senior, would I now have to sprinkle my posts with some kind of sex material or references?  Is that the best way to entice viewers to my blog and to my web site?

Doesn’t anyone out there care about my thoughts on family relationships?  Writing?  Boomers+?

Why is there a need for bloggers, advertisers, and anyone else, for that matter, to use sex in order to have their voice heard or their brand seen?

Even though there have been studies which conclude that sex doesn’t sell, the common belief is that it does.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/madeline-wahl/why-its-unfortunate-that-sex-sells_b_5433251.html

Think the barrage of ads for erectile dysfunction and all those loving couples who apparently can’t wait to jump in the sack.  Or think the sexy woman wearing a sports jersey who, in a soft, come-hither voice, suggests that, yes, men like sports but after the game, they want to get it on.

I could just puke.

I’m not an author of romance and will never be.  It just isn’t me.  Besides, we have the thirty-two   books that Jackie Collins left behind for all the sex anyone could want.

I think I’m left with continuing to write/post/tweet about lifestyle, family relationships, and boomers+.  The number of folks who follow me will most surely take a swan dive off a cliff.  I’ll try to steel myself  for the defections but, if it’s anything like dropping from #1 on Amazon to #40, then I’m in for a big sulk and thoughts of taking up organic farming.