From a distance, I don’t look my age. If there’s space between you and me, you might think I’m young. But when you get closer, when you see the lines on my face and the grey hair at my temples, you’ll know the truth; there’s nowhere for me to hide.
Despite my best efforts, I have drifted into middle age; I’m not willing to take drastic measures, to pretend to be something I am not, though sometimes these days I find myself wondering whether I should be putting more effort into my skin care regimen. Getting older is a gift. There’s true and deep beauty in it, in the acceptance of things that once tormented me and in the gentle observation of roles that have been bequeathed to others.
Yet there’s a sadness in it too, and I can’t deny that; I am sometimes haunted by the ghost of all that has vanished. I notice the years in my knees, in my face, in the softness of my upper arms, in my unwarranted exhaustion. There are regrets, of course. Younger, I believed I had none; now, I know better. There have been lessons, some hard-won, and others that are still unfolding. I know there are more to come. I ache, sometimes, for what I might have done, who – indeed – I could have been. A few decisions torment me, but I also understand now that there’s no point in stewing in agony.
My life is not what I thought it would be; in some ways I am disappointed, and in other ways, I sit in awe. I am surrounded by people who love me. I live every day in a place that gives me nature upon nature upon nature. I like my work so much that many days, I forget I am working. I am educated, and healthy, and curious. I have done my best, which at times has let me down, and which at times has made me proud. I can only learn, and move forward, and do my best again.
Still: yesterday, I stayed in bed longer than I would have a decade ago. The sheets were so soft, the new featherbed more than I’d known it would be. In the afternoon, I went for a run not because I had to but instead because I felt inspired; I wanted to feel the pre-storm air against my body. After dinner, I ordered two desserts because I wished to taste them both, though in college I would have gone without. I had a bite of each. Two. And then was done.
I put some laundry in the washer. I stood at the sink, my hands warm in soapy water. I made a birthday cake for a friend.
I got older, as one does; when we are so lucky.